A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Egypt Drafting Bill to Ban Graffiti

Egypt's Minister of Local Development, ‘Adel Labib, says his Ministry is drafting a law to ban "abusive" graffiti. (Also see this article.) While this is most immediately likely aimed at attacks on the Army by Morsi supporters, it needs to be remembered, as this blog has recorded many times, that graffiti was the artistic lifeblood of the 2011 Revolution.

Coming just days after satirist Bassem Youssef's popular show was "suspended" by its host network after its brief return to the air for the first time since the coup (a move nearly half of all Egyptians are said to support!), this, like so many other recent indicators, does not augur well for freedom of expression. Graffiti is by definition an underground, transgressive medium, and perhaps it is possible to ban only the obscene or libelous stuff, but censorship is a slippery slope indeed, especially if military men are writing the ground rules.

I would expect a new wave of creative graffiti. The suzeeinthecity blog has done an excellent job of documenting it to date.

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