“Reading for All”, a General Egyptian Book Organization project whose patron was Suzanne Mubarak, previous Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak’s wife, subsidized the previously banned comic book “Dictatorship for Beginners: Bahgatos, President of Greater Bahgatia” and current Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is already learning a few lessons from it.

Pretty much like the Syrian National Film Organisation, a government body that funded some of the most critically acclaimed documentaries by local opposition figures then banned their screening in the country. An interesting reading by Egyptian journalist Mohamed Dahshan.

mohamed el dahshan. economist, writer, speaker, compulsive traveller.

Originally published in Foreign Policy: Transitions.

RHS: “The Great Bahgatos is on the People’s hearts”
LHS: “Bahgatia’s Statue of Liberty” – “safety matches” – “The Law”

My father recently bought a new copy of an old book. We couldn’t buy it earlier because it was virtually impossible to get one when Hosni Mubarak was president. You’ll understand why when you hear the title: Dictatorship for Beginners: Bahgatos, President of Greater Bahgatia. (You can see a copy here — in Arabic, but you don’t have to understand the text to enjoy it).

It’s a slim comic book, a pearl of Arab political satire, and the brainchild of caricaturist extraordinaire Bahgat Osman. Because it was banned for decades, I was recently surprised and delighted to find the book suddenly available on the Egyptian market — and subsidized by the Egyptian government at that.

Let me explain.

Bahgatos, the book’s protagonist…

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