US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2410

ANOTHER CARTOONIST CROSSES THE LINE

Identifier: 05CAIRO2410
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2410 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-03-28 11:05:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: OPRC KPAO EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


 
UNCLAS CAIRO 002410 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OPRC, KPAO, EG 
SUBJECT: ANOTHER CARTOONIST CROSSES THE LINE 
 
REF: CAIRO 2201 
 
1.  Summary: A small, middle-of-the-road Cairo weekly 
magazine ran a cartoon on March 19 of a swastika- 
covered U.S. soldier.  Embassy staff met with the 
editor on March 23 to protest the cartoon.  The 
editor stated that the cartoon was a 2004 work by a 
Palestinian freelancer.  Although the editor made no 
specific promise to refrain from using similar images 
in the future, we believe our timely reaction to the 
use of such unacceptable symbols sends a message that 
their use does not go unnoticed and may serve as a 
disincentive to their use in the future. End summary. 
 
2.  Following a series of hostile, anti-U.S. cartoons 
in Cairo's leading Al Akhbar newspaper last week, 
including some with Nazi imagery, the much smaller 
and generally middle-of-the-road Al Ahram Al Arabi 
weekly magazine (circulation 8,000) on March 19 ran 
an editorial cartoon of a smiling, swastika-covered 
U.S. soldier shoveling skulls and bodies labeled 
"massacres of Faluja, Palestine, Lebanon" into an 
upturned black top hat, labeled with the Star of 
David. 
 
3.  On March 23, we met with Mohammed Habousha, the 
managing editor of Al Ahram Al Arabi, to protest the 
offensive cartoon.  Using arguments similar to those 
used last week by the PA Counselor with the lead 
cartoonist for Al Akhbar (reftel), post pressed the 
case that the use of Nazi symbolism associated with 
the U.S. is both offensive and harmful to a 
constructive dialogue. 
 
4.  Habousha was receptive and explained that the 
artist who drew the cartoon in question was neither 
regular staff, nor even Egyptian, but a young, 
Palestinian freelancer, Ismail El Qassem, from whom 
the magazine bought some drawings last year. (In fact, 
the published cartoon carries the date "2004" below 
the signature.)  According to Habousha, his magazine 
bought some cartoons from El Qassem last year, but did 
not use them when purchased.  Last week, when 
assembling the March 19 issue, they went to the files 
to find a cartoon critical of U.S. military presence 
in the region, and they selected one of El Qassem's. 
 
5. When asked by Embassy staff why such an offensive 
image was chosen, Habousha claimed that he had not 
given it much thought and that he had not really 
focused on the fact that there were swastikas on the 
soldier's uniform.  In fact, he claimed, the drawing 
was chosen simply to highlight the argument that the 
U.S. is causing unjustified casualties in the region, 
and not to accuse American soldiers specifically of 
Nazi practices.  As for the Star of David, he 
suggested that the artist was only trying to link U.S. 
violence in the region to Israeli violence in 
Palestine.  When faced with strong rejection of these 
arguments, Habousha acknowledged that he understood 
the Embassy's position clearly, but made no specific 
promise to refrain from publishing similar cartoons in 
the future. 
 
6.  Comment:  As with Al Akhbar last week, post is 
focusing its cartoon-related protests on Nazi imagery 
associated with the U.S.  We believe this approach 
will lead editors to think twice before using such 
imagery in future cartoons.  Post continues to address 
the more general, anti-American imagery that routinely 
appears throughout the Egyptian media in the context 
of our long-term dialogue with Egypt's editors and 
journalists.  End comment. 
 
GRAY 

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