Prominent cartoonist detained for lampooning Egypt regime

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Egyptian security forces detain satirist in fresh crackdown on critics of al-Sisi regime

By Hussein Mahmoud

CAIRO – Egyptian security forces have detained a prominent cartoonist in a fresh crackdown on critics of the regime of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Islam Gawish, 26, was arrested on Sunday for operating an “unlicensed” website, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the young cartoonist had been arrested for running “a personal website on the Internet without license in violation of the law”.

According to a statement on Gawish’s Facebook page, which has some 1.6 million followers, the satirist was detained for drawing a cartoon that cast the al-Sisi regime in a negative light.

In a joint statement, several opposition parties and public figures called for the cartoonist’s immediate release.

“Gawish’s arrest is part of a systematic policy aimed at restricting freedom of opinion and expression,” the joint statement read.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, lawmaker Haitham al-Hariri said he planned to grill the government on what he described as “violations and abuses” by the Egyptian authorities.

Egypt has been racked by political turmoil since the military unseated Mohamed Morsi — the country’s first freely elected president — in a 2013 military coup.

In recent months, security forces have detained several government detractors in a move seen by rights groups as an effort to silence all criticism of the ruling regime.

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