CAIRO — “Managing a Facebook page without a license. That was the accusation they used to detain me,” the Egyptian caricaturist Islam Gawish told Al-Monitor in an interview from the Cairo International Book Fair Feb. 2, a few hours after his release. Gawish was at the fair to launch volume 2 of “Al-Waraqah” (“The Paper”), a collection of pieces from his Facebook page, also titled Al-Waraqah. The site, with its simple, satirical caricatures lampooning the state of affairs in Egypt, has met with widespread success on social media.
Gawish had been arrested Jan. 31 at his workplace, the offices of the Egypt News Network website, and interrogated about drawing political caricatures targeting symbols of the Egyptian state. After a wave of protests and controversy generated through social media, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement announcing that the charge against Gawish was “managing an electronic website without a license.” Ultimately, however, the authorities released Gawish Feb. 1 without charging him.