One month has passed since the last piece of public communication from the highly popular Egyptian cartoonist and animator Ashraf Hamdi, who posted a message on Facebook January 25th stating he was being arrested. Local sources confirmed as much later the same week though CRNI has seen no official legal proceedings against him.
As we reported in January Hamdi was apparently arrested after the re-publication to Facebook of a seven year old animated video, intended as a tribute to the January 2011 protestors on their 10th anniversary. The relevant post was removed although the video itself remains in its original form on YouTube.
According to sources in Egypt Hamdi is accused of “spreading false information and misusing social networks”. However to our knowledge no-one has been given an official reason for the arrest and no charges have been articulated; according to the details set out by Amnesty International this fits with a pattern of mass-scale arbitrary detention in Egypt.
Ashraf Hamdi founded the Egyptoon series of animated web cartoons in 2013 and previously was a well-known press cartoonist in Egypt. The dedicated YouTube channel has more than three million subscribers and its most popular individual video has been viewed twenty-eight million times; the brand’s Facebook page has over 900,000 “likes” and thousands follow on Instagram and Twitter too. To say the very least, his continued absence is being noticed.
We repeat the call we made a month ago, that Ashraf Hamdi is a prolific, successful and talented cartoonist whose freedom of expression and human rights must be respected. We demand his immediate safe return and the cessation of any legal action against him.