Egyptian official: 'Tom and Jerry' behind violence

The head of Egypt’s State Information Service claims popular children’s cartoon is behind the violence and extremism in the Arab world.

Elad Benari,

Tom and Jerry (archive)
Tom and Jerry (archive)

The head of Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) has found the reason for the violence and extremism plaguing the Arab world: The children’s cartoon Tom and Jerry.

Ambassador Salah Abdel Sadek made these comments during a speech at a conference entitled “The Media and the Culture of Violence” recently held at Cairo University, according to the Egyptian Streets news website.

He also claimed that video games and other “violent” movies were to blame for the violence and added that Tom and Jerry sets an idea in the viewer’s mind that violence is natural.

“[Tom and Jerry] portrays the violence in a funny manner and sends the message that, yes, I can hit him…and I can blow him up with explosives. It becomes set in [the viewer’s] mind that this is natural,” said Ambassador Abdel Sadek, according to Egyptian Streets.

“Video games are spreading…[those] that came out recently with technological advancements. It has become very normal for a young man to spend long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood and he’s happy and content,” he continued, adding that young people are then faced with social pressures that push them to resort to violence, which they consider normal and understandable.

After the statement, the privately-owned Youm7 published an article entitled “Five Accusations Tom and Jerry Faces in Egypt”. The article, also translated by Egyptian Streets, stated the cartoon teaches children about negative habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and stealing.

The author of the article also charged that Tom and Jerry warps the idea of justice, helps children come up with sinister plans, and encourages violence and the use of sharp instruments such as knives, guns, and chainsaws.

The comments are not the first time that Arab countries have targeted Western cartoons. “The Simpsons” have perhaps been targeted the most, with an Egyptian television channel claiming in 2014 that an episode of the popular show proved that the United States had conspired to cause the Arab Spring revolutions.

The same channel later claimed that “The Simpsons” was actually devised by Jewish lobbies and think tanks and financed by Rupert Murdoch.

“The Simpsons” has been targeted in the past by Turkey, where the Supreme Board of Radio and Television fined a local private broadcaster for airing an episode of the show which was deemed to be “making fun of G-d.”

In 2012, Iran ordered a ban of the Simpsons dolls, explaining that “we don’t want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys.”

But as far as Tom and Jerry are concerned, Egyptologist Wassim Al-Sissy in 2014 actually claimed that Egypt had invented the cartoon…so perhaps Egypt is encouraging violence and extremism on its own?