Sunday, August 18, 2013

The conflict in Egypt through the eyes of cartoonists

From The Cartoon Movement.

Cartoon by Enrico Bertuccioli

In a study about political cartoons and their role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, social researcher Ilan Danjoux concluded that cartoons have no power to predict events. But he did discover that they are accurate gauges of public opinion; they chronicle events, not neccesarily in terms of facts, but in terms of opinions.

For the last week, our newsroom has been flooding with cartoons about the events in Egypt. The issue has sparked a battle of opinions, with some clear fault lines. In this post, we identify the major divisions by looking at the cartoons that have been sent to us.

Because of the complexity of what's happening, and the difficulty of getting straight facts, a lot of international cartoonists are limiting themselves to commenting on the bloodshed in general, lamenting all the lives that are lost without clearly pointing out who is to blame (see above drawing).

Other cartoonists condemn the role of the military, This perspective seems to be in line with global public opinion, where most countries have strongly condemned the agression used by the army against the pro-Morsi protesters:

Cartoon by Shahrokh Heidari

Some of our Egyptian cartoonists (Doaa Eladl and Amr Okasha) disagree strongly with this perspective. In their cartoons, the blame is put with the Muslim Brotherhood, who are themselves involved in shedding blood. They feel the international media is wrongly portraying events. Interestingly, some other cartoonists from the Arab world seem to agree with this; this could point to a schism in reporting about Egypt in the international media and the Arab media:

Cartoon by Doaa Eladl

Cartoon by Amr Okasha

To complicate matters further, another perspective concerns the role of the United States. With a long vested interest in Egypt, the world is watching what they will do. Egyptian cartoonist Doaa Eladl  and Amr Okasha see the US as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood (because they publicly condemned the violence of the army):

Cartoon by Doaa Eladl

Cartoon by Amr Okasha

Finally, other cartoonists blame the US for continuing to back the military:

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle

Someone commented on a Egypt-cartoon our Facebook page: '[This is] a solemn reminder that editorial cartoons, like any other media, can be skewed to benefit a particular political belief.' At Cartoon Movement, we believe that cartoons are by their very nature opinions. We also think that if you see enough opinions on any given issue, you get a well-rounded view. But in the case of Egypt, the cartoons do not contribute to a greater clarity; instead they reflect the reality: confusing, muddled, complex and uncertain.

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