The Creativity Front has called for a boycott of the Sawy Culturewheel, accompanied by a protest on Tuesday against the centre and its owner, Mohamed El-Sawy. The Front released a statement detailing the reasons for the boycott and said the Culture Wheel refused to publish cartoons that were critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice party holds power in the Egyptian government.
The Creativity Front is a coalition of artists and intellectuals aiming to protect freedom of creativity and freedom of speech. It includes writers, actors, musicians, and filmmakers as well as many associations such as the writers’ union and the cinema syndicate.
The Sawy Culturewheel has been a staple of Cairene cultural life. The Zamalek site of the Culturewheel was unused public property until it was turned into a cultural hub by El-Sawy.
A prominent figure in Egyptian public life, El-Sawy recently achieved notoriety when he declared himself representative of Egyptian churches in the constituent assembly, despite the withdrawal of all churches in protest against the constitution drafting process.
The Creativity Front stated that El-Sawy had been in league with the Brotherhood for a long time and warned of his role as a “censor more royal than the king”. The cartoons were submitted as part of a caricature exhibition before being rejected by El-Sawy.
The Creativity Front said that the owner of a “private cultural institution” should not be involved in “flirting” with the current government “even if the institution exists through the use of public lands.”
The Front called upon allies in the fine arts sector to publically display the banned works as a response to El-Sawy’s refusal. They concluded their statement by calling for a protest in front of the Zamalek location of the Sawy Culturewheel at 6pm on Tuesday, as well as a call to reprint the cartoons, with the permission of the artists.
The Front is active in Egyptian politics and aims to create a force to push for the protection of freedom of expression and creativity. Recent causes taken up by the Front include retribution for the martyrs of the All Saints church bombing in 2011 and the closing of the Prophet Daniel book market in Alexandria.
Media outlets reported that Sawy Culturewheel has denied allegations the cartoons were rejected on the basis of their content, but rather on their bad quality and other logistical issues. The Daily News Egypt has not been able to get a response from the Sawy Culturewheel.