Doaa Eladl is a famous Egyptian woman cartoonist who began publishing her drawings in 2007 in the Al Dostor newspaper, Rose Al Youssef Magazine and Sabah El Kheir Magazine. Now, her cartoons appear on the prominent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm. In 2009 she received the award of journalism excellence in Caricature.
Recently, Ms. Eladl has become the first cartoonist in Egypt to face the charges of blasphemy Following the publication of a controversial cartoon that Doaa drew about Female Genital Mutilation, Clitoraid contacted the artist in Egypt for an interview and asked her the following questions about her work in general, and the FGM cartoon in particular. Note that in Egypt, the majority of women is excised and Clitoraid hopes to find a surgeon there who wishes to be trained in the Clitoral Restoration surgical technique in order to restore the dignity and a sense of pleasure of the FGM victims who seek it 1. When did you start doing socio-political cartoons?
I started drawing cartoons about 8 years ago for the in Al-Dostour Constitution newspaper.
During the first part of my career, I was drawing political cartoons against the former regime, ex-president Mubarak, and the National Democratic Party [the party in power at that time], I also published social comics in Sabah Al-Kheir (Good morning) magazine, then in "Rose Al-Youssef" magazine. Several years later, I started working for the Al-Masry Al-Youm [Egyptians Today] newspaper, a high circulation paper in Egypt.2. What attracted you to this particular craft to voice your opinion?
The art of Caricature is seditious. A cartoonist always has something to say.
I find that my talent allows me to criticize a lot of political and social issues, and I also find that I never run out of inspiration for my caricatures whether to praise or to object to an issue. 3. How are you perceived as a woman criticizing men and the men in power in your country?
Their perception of me has changed through time.
At first, when I started in this profession, a majority of the readers thought I was a man! That's because the readers couldn't imagine a woman drawing a caricature, especially professional, political ones. But with time, I became popular, so now there is no problem anymore. In the end, good ideas always find their way to the public, whether the cartoonist is a man or a woman
Regarding your question about the drawings, I don't only criticize men. What I criticize are some of the habits that I think are wrong and there are many and they must be totally reconsidered!
For example, circumcision. It is just an African habit. It doesn't stem from the Muslim religion at all. The Mufti ([ormal scholar for Muslims] of the Republic Dr. Ali Gomaa decreed that female circumcision is as a crime against humanity and that it is not related to Islam. Yet, it is still being practiced in Egypt's countryside and unfortunately they do it in the name of religion!!!!4. Is there an improvement in the freedom of women since the change of the regime?
There have been no improvement in women's freedom since the fall of the Mubarak's regime because the current system is not significantly different. On the opposite, it is the worse. They use religion only to dominate, they use it just to seek political gain.
I am a Muslim and that is my choice but the current system, the Muslim Brotherhood interpret religion in their own way and, unfortunately they are actually demonizing Islam.
Before the revolution took place, I was casually drawing about women's issues and their problems, but now I am compelled to draw these cartoons about women in order to defend my own existence, my personal freedom that are threatened under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.5. Why did you choose to do a cartoon on FGM?
I think I have answered this question earlier and I would like to add that I draw cartoons not only about FGM but also other problems relating to Egyptian women like domestic violence, marrying minors, [sexual] harassment, violence against women, and even a new phenomenon in Egyptian society called "sexual mass terror" a condescending way to refer to female demonstrators. I just cannot remain silent about all of these issues.6. What was the public's reaction?
The public's reaction was divided. Some saw a wonderful caricature on a subject that must be criticized, others saw it as sacrilegious to Muslim rule, finally some thought that I should find a more subtle way to criticize, a way that is less shocking.7. Is there an educational program in Egypt to stop this ritual?
There were educational programs in the past [before religious regime began to rise in the 1970's]. Also, there is a law that clearly criminalizes those who practice FGM. [In the 1990's, governmental hospitals were banned from practicing FGM; in 2008, the ban included all hospitals], however there is currently no educational program.8. How does the young Egyptian generation feel about FGM (both men and women)
The youth also has a divided reaction, some are against FGM while others defend it.