In a phone interview with the “Cairo Today” show on OrbitTV, Egyptian Pres. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he was “not upset” with cartoonist Islam Gawish, who was arrested on Sunday and released early Monday after he was “unofficially” accused of insulting the regime:
Although initially there were reports of several charges against Gawish — including running and unlicensed Facebook page — he was released after a social-media uproar and without charges.
Gawish has said that an officer “unofficially” accused him of insulting the regime, which led to his arrest.
The mass upset about the popular cartoonist’s arrest — Gawish had 1.5 Facebook followers even before his arrest raised his global profile — reached El-Sisi’s attention, sparking a patriarchical phone-in that an Ahram Online report said included what could almost be a response to Andeel’s “Shy President” comic:
I’m not upset at Gawish or anyone…No one can speak on my behalf and say that I get upset from criticism.
If I accept being in such a position, I must bear all the consequences. There is no such thing as all people agreeing on something.
Every day, the 90 million people in Egypt find many things which make them uncomfortable, like the case of Gawish … Such things happen, and this is natural in a country which was in a revolutionary state for four years.
Hopefully this means we can forget the charges against Ahmed Naji as well, where a reader was made uncomfortable by his novel Using Life, the offending excerpt of which you can read on ArabLit.
It’s us who are not able to properly communicate with them [angry youth]. We are the ones who are unable to find common ground. I’m exerting lots of effort in this matter and I’m aware that I will need time.
El-Sisi said that finding “the balance between security measures and human rights is a sensitive and delicate issue which requires a lot of effort.”