FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists

by MEDEA BENJAMIN

One of the women who spoke at the Women’s Assembly during the World Social Forum in Tunisia was not a political activist, but a cartoonist. Dooa Eladl is 34-year-old Egyptian woman who calls herself a Muslim anarchist. Her work appears in the prominent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm She has become one of Egypt’s best-known political cartoonists, in a field completely dominated by men. (One of her humorous drawings is a portrait of herself marching to work, her hair tied to the mustaches of four of her male colleagues.)Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_m328aaa82

During the Egyptian uprising, Eladl and her colleagues supported the revolution by printing up some of their fiercest political satire, the kind that would not have been published, and handing them out in Tahrir Square. “I don’t think artists like myself should be members of political parties or organizers, but we should certainly use our art to speak out against injustice and oppression.”

Eladl’s blistering caricatures have landed her in hot water with some of Egypt’s powerful fundamentalists. She now has the distinction of being the first cartoonist in Egypt to face blasphemy charges. In 2012 Salafi lawyer Khaled El-Masry, Secretary General of a group called National Center for Defense of Freedoms, filed a complaint against her for defaming religious prophets. The cartoon he objected to shows an Egyptian man with angel wings lecturing Adam and Eve. The man is telling Adam and Eve that they would never have been expelled from heaven if they had simply voted in favor of the Brotherhood’s draft constitution in the recent Egyptian referendum. The court has not yet heard the case.Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_31e90d9a

If the fundamentalists are upset about her irreverent depictions of religious figures, one has to wonder if they have seen her searing drawings about women’s rights—and wrongs. One cartoon against child marriage shows a lecherous, old man with a cane peering greedily up the skirt of a little girl holding a teddy bear.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_m3f0a83e9

Another has the streaming beard of a fundamentalist flowing across a woman’s mouth to silence her.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_215a5681

Eladli uses her art to bring attention to domestic violence, underage marriage, sexual harassment, violence against women, and the new phenomenon of attacks against female demonstrators. Some accuse of her being sacrilegious, claiming that her work is too shocking. The accusations don’t seem to phase her, and they certainly haven’t influenced her style.

Most disturbing, yet thought-provoking, is one cartoon against female genital mutilation, in which a man is standing on a ladder between a woman’s legs, reaching up to cut her with a pair of scissors.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_m6b2f53ec

I criticize habits that I think are wrong and should be totally reconsidered, like female circumcision, which doesn’t stem from the Muslim religion at all. There are Muslim scholars who say female circumcision is a crime against humanity and is not related to Islam. Yet it is still being practiced in Egypt’s countryside and unfortunately, in the name of religion.”

While Eladl was delighted to see Mubarak ousted, she says that in many ways, the situation for women is worse because now those in power use religion to dominate women. A Muslim who covers her head out of choice, Eladl is vehemently opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood. “They interpret religion in their own way but I don’t think it is the real way of Islam. Since the revolution, I feel compelled to draw cartoons about women in order to defend my own personal freedoms, which are threatened under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Eladl complains that the new constitution does not guarantee women’s rights or respect the international treaties that protect women. It does not give rights to divorced women or guarantee equal rights for women workers. If the constitution is implemented, she fears women’s right will be turned back.

One of her cartoons shows a professional-looking woman walking up to the door of Parliament, only to be told by a bearded man “Sorry, this is only for men.”

Eladl’s critique of the post-Mubarak era goes way beyond the treatment of women. She says there has been little change in general because the new government is similar to the old, more concerned about holding onto power than making life better for the poor. One drawing depicts the “new ruler” as a bull, fighting the military matador to get onto the king’s throne.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_m52ac6f1f

Another shows the head of Mubarak severed from his body, but his suit plastered with the faces of many more Mubaraks.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_56077c21

Eladl is also disappointed in U.S. policy. Like millions in the Arab world, she had high hopes when Obama was first elected. “We were so hopeful when Obama came to Cairo with his beautiful speech, but then we saw that he continued to support repressive regimes, including here in Egypt, and that his words were hollow.” That’s why she drew a cartoon of Obama surrounded by a huge empty speech bubble. Another sketch shows Qaddhafi’s army shooting at civilians, while a big arm of America reaches out to grab a giant barrel of oil. The caption says: “America lends a hand to Libyan revolutionaries.“ “I see the hypocrisy of U.S. policy, intervening in places like Iraq and Libya that have a lot of oil, but not in the case of Syria,” says Eladl.

Egyptian Female Cartoonist Pokes Fun at Fundamentalists_html_18a507a4

If Eladl is worried about the blasphemy case and the enemies she is making with her scornful brushstrokes, she doesn’t show it. “The extremists don’t scare me,” she insists. “Whatever they do, I will continue to use my skills to poke fun at them. They must understand that we Egyptians have changed with the revolution, and we will not go backwards.”

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of www.CODEPINK.org and www.GlobalExchange.org.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human right organization Global Exchange. Follow her on twitter at @MedeaBenjamin.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail