In a controversial move, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other Disney characters are being removed from Egyptian schools. The government intends to replace the characters with Egyptian war heroes and martyrs and hopes to develop patriotism in school children. But in the wake of the Arab Spring, could the children begin to idolize war instead?
The Mickey Mouse ban declaration came from Alaa Marzouq, the governor of Qalyubia governorate north of Cairo. According to him, the characters are foreign and do little to instill the spirit of nationalism in Egyptian children.
“We need to replace pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck with images of famous Egyptians and military martyrs, so that children will look up to them as role models,” said Marzouq. “These characters are U.S. made, whereas we have our own noble figures who can deepen children’s patriotism and love of country,” he added.
Following the decree, a team has been formed by the ministry of education to oversee its immediate implementation. All images of cartoon characters are now expected to be stripped from classroom walls and in their place will hang images of soldiers killed by Islamic extremists and terrorists. Such soldiers are seen to be military heroes and martyrs in the country.
Is the Mickey Mouse ban in Egypt really about children?
But is the move really about instilling patriotism? Critics think the government is only attempting to raise the military profile across the country and into all sectors of public life.
Governor Alaa Marzouq who was appointed into his position by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, issued the declaration after less than 60 days in office. President al-Sisi is a former general, who still works closely with the military, is now seen to have influenced Marzouq into issuing the declaration.
Fear that Mickey Mouse Ban will Radicalize Children
Social media users in the country have mocked and criticized the move saying it will militarize education and make children idolize war. They think the government should instead focus on improving the quality of education by decongesting public schools and dropping Egypt’s old-fashioned methods of teaching.
A user going by the name Florence of Arabia tweeted saying, “Egypt bans @Disney characters from its schoolbooks. If you feel threatened by a mouse in shorts, what else scares you?”
“I don’t know what to say. I learned to read before going to school because of the Mickey Magazine, which I still read now,” another tweet read. Mickey Magazine is a Disney comic in the country whose characters are portrayed in an Egyptian setting.
Others wondered what the children had done in order to be subjected to such a declaration. “Hanging photos of the dead on the school walls, what have our children done to deserve this?” wondered another user.
In 2015, The New Arab reported that a 222-year-old Facebook user was sentenced to three years in prison for posting a photoshopped photo of president al-Sisi with Mickey Mouse ears. Some are suspicious the current ban on Disney characters could be related to that incident.