Middle East

Egyptian cartoonists join presidential election battle

Egyptian cartoon Image copyright Al-Misri al-Yawm
Image caption This cartoon from the al-Masry al-Youm newspaper shows a pro-Muslim Brotherhood family passing by two election campaign posters, one urging "vote Sisi" and the other "vote Hamdin"

Egyptians are known for their satirical wit, as displayed in the slogans and placards of the 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

Humour and satire continue to spread in Egypt as the country heads for its first presidential vote since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi, just under a year ago. Political cartoonists have sharpened their pencils and are conducting a parallel campaign in the media.

Although former armed forces head Abdul Fattah al-Sisi enjoys the backing of the traditional media - unlike rival Hamdeen Sabahi - neither candidate escapes the witty, funny and, in some cases, harsh, cartoons that appeared since campaigning began earlier this month.

A doctored photo of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Twitter showed him with his head too large for his body and holding a red rose, seemingly reflecting a common perception of a man who, rather than being a stern military figure, is often seen as a smiling, softly-spoken person known for his emotional speeches.

Ganzeer, a well-known Egyptian graffiti artist, published an anti-Sisi cartoon on his website showing what looked like Mr Sisi in his army uniform but with a TV screen with picture of a nervous rabbit stuck to his face and a caption above saying: "Who's afraid of art?"

Underneath, Ganzeer said he predicted Egypt under Mr Sisi as being a "police state" that would act out of fear and crack down on dissent.

Image copyright Al-Tahrir
Image caption Al-Tahrir daily's bride character is looking for "a strong groom"

The private Al-Tahrir daily, however, refrained from mentioning Mr Sisi by name but published a cartoon of a bride standing in front of the pyramids saying she "does not want [to marry] a soft man, but a strong groom", implying the former defence minister.

Image copyright Al-Yawm al-Sabi
Image caption Al-Youm al-Sabi's cartoon lampoons the Egyptian Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi

The daily al-Youm al-Sabi on 15 May published a satirical cartoon of prominent Egyptian Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an outspoken critic of Mohammed Morsi's ousting by the military.

It showed the Doha-based pro-Muslim Brotherhood cleric sitting, holding a sign saying "participating in the elections is haram [forbidden in Islam]". A passing man sees the sign and says smirking: "Now I'm sure that participating is actually halal [religiously legitimate]."

Some Islamist groups, including the Brotherhood that underpinned Mr Morsi's presidency, say they will boycott the elections to show their disapproval of the interim roadmap outlined by the military.

A caricature in the private al-Masry al-Youm daily showed a pro-Brotherhood family walking past two campaign posters, with one saying "vote Sisi" and the other "vote Hamdin".

The veiled wife asks her bearded husband which of the two candidates she should vote for in order to go to heaven. Her husband, who is holding a four-finger sign in support of pro-Morsi supporters killed during the army's break-up of two sit-ins last summer, warns her that "if you vote for either of the candidates I'll send you back to your father's house".

Image copyright Al-Shuruq
Image caption Al-Shuruq daily's cartoon mocks the presidential candidates' economic policies

On the issue of the economy, the private Al-Shuruq daily published a cartoon likening both candidates' ambitious economic plans to a balloon inflated to bursting point. A man looks up at the balloon with a caption saying "big promises" - so big that the cartoonist inserted two exclamation marks next to the balloon.

Cartoonist Imad Hajjaj poked fun at Mr Sabahi, who claims to be the torchbearer of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser's socialist economic policies, as well as Mr Sisi, who is seen by his admirers to be the political heir of Nasser.

Hajjaj's cartoon, posted on his Twitter account (@emadhajjaj) on 6 May, showed both Mr Sabahi and Mr Sisi posing and holding a banner of Nasser, who appears to be hiding his face in shame.

Elsewhere, Kilmati, a pro-Brotherhood website, published a drawing of a giant Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in his military uniform sitting in an armchair, stretching out the heel of his boot drawn in the form of a ballot box, ready for two voters queuing up to cast their votes.

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