Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) Ambassador Salah Abdel Sadek has a very firm opinion on who's responsible for violence and extremism in the Middle East. The iconic Tom and Jerry cartoons.
And what's more, Sadek said it in a speech with a straight face at a conference titled ‘The Media and the Culture of Violence’ at Cairo University.
This is what he said:
Tom and Jerry makes it seems that violence is natural
The website quotes Sadek as saying, "[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."
The cartoon teaches a lot of other bad things too...
He said the cartoon series teaches children negative habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and stealing. Also, it warps the idea of justice, makes children think of sinister plans, promotes violence and popularises the use of sharp instruments such as knives, guns, and chainsaws.
All video games are to blame
"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."
And while the Egyptian leader used some pretty bizarre logic, it's pertinent to mention that this hugely popular American cartoon series creating in the 1940s did face its share of controversies.
It has been blamed for racial stereotypes and the glamorisation of smoking, and the US has censored some episodes that promote either or both.
In Brazil, the Cartoon Network channel censored two episodes that were “politically incorrect” over “editorial issues and appropriateness of the content to the target audience.”
So will Sadek's comments hurt the cat and mouse cartoons?
According to Egyptianstreets.com: "it does not yet appear that the government will actually take any steps to censor Tom and Jerry or video games".
However, Egypt has a history of censoring movies and stifling freedom of speech. Films are known to be chopped for sexual content and drug scenes and a massive 45 minutes were chopped from Wolf of Wall Street. Now to see if this speech sparks a new wave of censorship.