The cartoonist and animator, creator and founder of the hugely successful Egyptoon web animation series, one of the most popular strands of Arabic-language content on YouTube, has been the victim of an enforced disappearance according to sources in Egypt.
In the early hours of Monday January 25th, the tenth anniversary of the 2011 revolutionary movement, Ashraf Hamdi re-posted to Facebook the above video that was first created in 2013 and makes sardonic commentary on the memory and legacy of those who took part. Very shortly thereafter he wrote a message on social media saying he was about to be arrested and he has not been seen or heard from since. However his most recent message concerning the video was removed from the Egyptoon Facebook page on January 27th. The video itself as well as numerous other historical social media posts that include a link to it remain online and in their original form.
CRNI believes it is impossible to have an informed conversation about this case without cognizance of the video above, the animated cartoon that appears to be at the heart of the matter. As long as it can be viewed publicly we will help direct viewers toward it. An English translation of the voice-over follows.
“I am the voice when you want the world to be silent; I am the one who stood in the face of injustice, corruption and despotism; I am the one who chanted ‘peace, bread, freedom, social justice’; I was the one smiling when I was being shot by bullets and my blood spilled on the asphalt; I am the one who in the midst of depression told people that loss of hope is a betrayal and we will continue our path; I am the one you can see standing in pride but in reality….”NOTE – The video’s visuals amount to a pun, making reference to a Volvo commercial featuring actor Jean-Claude Van Damme that was current at the time of the animation’s first appearance. The Arabic shemoukh (pride) rhymes with mafshoukh (copulation with legs apart).
Ashraf Hamdi is a popular, well-known and highly successful satirical voice, all too rare in the MENA region. That he has been so swiftly and pointedly silenced suggests a very deliberate violation of his freedom of expression and human rights. Wherever he is and whoever is holding him, we demand his immediate release.