Egypt arrests cartoonist for marking January 25th Arab Spring Revolution anniversary in online post

Egypt arrests cartoonist for marking January 25th Arab Spring Revolution anniversary in online post
Egyptian authorities arrested a cartoonist for posting a video that marked the tenth anniversary of the January 25th pro-democracy uprising.
2 min read
25 January, 2021
Hamdy is the founder of popular YouTube channel Egyptoon [Facebook]
A cartoonist was arrested on Sunday for posting a video to mark the tenth anniversary of the popular uprising in Egypt.

Ashraf Hamdy, founder of popular YouTube channel Egyptoon, was detained by security forces just a day after posting the video, which focused on the government's suppression of dissent.

He managed to warn of his detention as it was taking place, writing "I am being arrested" in a Facebook post.

Under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt has seen the heaviest crackdown on dissent in its modern history.

Officials have targeted not only Islamist political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists and online critics.

On Monday, Egyptian pro-democracy activists marked the tenth anniversary since the January 25 uprising that toppled then dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Soon after in 2012, Mohamed Morsi, a member of Egypt's most powerful Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected as the first civilian president in the country's history. 

Amid massive protests, the military - led by then-Defence Minister Sisi - removed Morsi in 2013, dissolved parliament and eventually banned the Brotherhood as a "terrorist group". 

Read also: Ten years on, did Egypt's January 25 revolution fail?

A crackdown on dissent ensued, and Sisi won two votes which human rights groups criticised as undemocratic, rigged and unfair, with no real challenge to the president.

A decade on, the significant loss of academics, artists, journalists and other intellectuals has, along with a climate of fear, hobbled any political opposition.

Data from the World Bank shows an increase in emigres from Egypt since 2011. 

Though impossible to tell economic migrants from political exiles, a total of 3,444,832 left in 2017 - nearly 60,000 more than in 2013, the years for which figures are available. 

Many relocated to Berlin, Paris and London. Egyptians also have settled in Turkey, Qatar, Sudan and even Asian countries like Malaysia and South Korea.

Human Rights Watch estimated in 2019 that there were 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Egypt third, behind China and Turkey, in detaining journalists.

Sisi maintains Egypt has no political prisoners despite the arrest of a journalist or a rights worker making news roughly every month. 

Many people have been imprisoned on terrorism charges, for breaking a ban on protests or for disseminating false news. Others remain in indefinite pretrial detentions.

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