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June 28th, 2011

EGYPT – Images of Mickey and Minnie Mouse tweeted by Egypt’s Naguib Sawiris triggers controversy between Coptic Christians and Muslims.

  • Mickey Mouse is depicted with a long beard, wearing a thobe/dishdasha – traditional Islamic robe, and has an altered facial expression. Minnie Mouse is fitted with a niqab – full body veil – showing only her eyes.
  • Sawiris issued a public apology for posting the cartoons on Twitter, stating he did not mean to offend anyone.
  • Talks of boycotting Sawiris’ businesses are circulating via multiple social media sites.
  • The political divide between Coptic Christians and conservative Muslims, such as the Salafis, have grown post-revolution with the formation of a new Egyptian government that is currently underway.
  • Egypt has been coping with the divide between different religious groups since the attack of Christian institutions in Cairo, including the May burning of the Virgin Mary Church, by radical Muslims.
  • Sawiris is one of Egypt’s richest men and is the country’s leading secularist. After Mubarak stepped down from power on February 11, he formed his own political party and called for a separation of state and religion.

Original sources: AP; BBC News; Los Angeles Times; The Telegraph; Fox News; CBS News; Al Arabiya; The Miami Herald; San Jose Mercury News; The Kansas City Star; Star Africa; China Daily.

Analysts available for comment:

Mona ELTAHAWY is an award-winning New York-based journalist and commentator and an international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues. Ms. Eltahawy was born in Egypt and has lived in the U.K, Saudi Arabia and Israel and is currently based in New York. She is a board member of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America.

CONTACT: mona.eltahawy@theglobalexperts.org

Location: North America

Languages: Arabic, English

Dalia MOGAHED is senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and leads the analysis of Gallup’s unprecedented survey representing the views and opinions of more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.

CONTACT: dalia.mogahed@theglobalexperts.org

Location: North America

Languages: Arabic, English

Rashid KHALIDI, Ph.D., has been the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University since 2003. He has written over ninety-five scholarly articles on aspects of Middle East history and politics, as well as opinion pieces in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune Vanguardia, The London Review of Books, and The Nation.

CONTACT: rashid.khalidi@theglobalexperts.org

Location: North America

Languages: Arabic, English

Joel BEININ, Ph.D., is the director of Middle East Studies and professor of history at the American University in Cairo. He is on extended leave from Stanford University. His principal areas of research have been the histories of modern Egypt, Israel and Palestine, radical movements and minorities in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and US policy in the Middle East.

CONTACT: joel.beinin@theglobalexperts.org

Location: Middle East

Languages: Arabic, English

Mohamed ELMENSHAWY is the editor in chief of Taqrir Washington, and Arab Insight, both are projects of Washington-based World Security Institute. Elmenshawy holds a master’s degree in international relations and Middle Eastern politics from the University of Akron, Ohio and an MBA in international strategy from American University in DC. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Cairo University in Egypt.

CONTACT: mohamed.elmenshawy@theglobalexperts.org

Location: North America

Languages: Arabic, English

Omid SAFI, Ph.D., is one of the leading intellectuals in contemporary Islam. Having witnessed the Iranian revolution and the horrors of the Iran-Iraq war personally, he is deeply committed to exploring the possibilities of justice and nonviolent struggle within the Islamic tradition. As the current Chair for the Study of Islam at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion, Dr. Safi disseminates his knowledge of the study of Islam with a vast number of pupils.

CONTACT: omid.safi@theglobalexperts.org

Location: Middle East, North America

Languages: Arabic, English

Ndeye ANDUJAR is vice president and co-founder of Junta Islamica Catalana (Catalan Islamic Board). She has been co-organized of the International Congress on Islamic Feminism and director of webislam.com. She has also been member of international networks such as WISE and Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. She has co-authored several books and articles on Islamic feminism.

CONTACT: ndeye.andujar@theglobalexperts.org

Location: West Europe

Languages: French, Spanish

Caroline FOUREST is a French writer and columnist. She is a commentator on fundamentalism in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as well as political extremism and the far-right. Many of her books have received international acclaim, including Brother Tariq, a critical look at the career of Tariq Ramadan, and her most recent work, The Last Utopia.

CONTACT: caroline.fourest@theglobalexperts.org

Location: West Europe

Languages: French, English


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