El-Sisi jokes about Kiki challenge but Egyptian police are not laughing

The Kiki dance challenge is the latest viral youth sensation - but Egyptian police are not happy with the craze. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Updated 31 July 2018

El-Sisi jokes about Kiki challenge but Egyptian police are not laughing

CAIRO: The Kiki dance challenge is the latest viral youth sensation. Also known as the “In My Feelings” challenge, participants are filmed jumping out of a slow-moving car and dancing alongside it to the sound of Drake’s hit “In My Feelings,” while the car continues to move.
Egypt is among the many countries in which it has become a trend, thanks in part to its Arabic-style music.
It has proven so popular in the country that even President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi joked about it this week when he addressed the sixth National Youth Conference, laughing as he told the young people in the audience: “You are riding in cars and playing Kiki.” He then turned to his minister of petroleum and added: “Increase the price of fuel and don’t worry.” Gas prices in Egypt have soared in the past two years, with three large increases imposed by the government.
El-Sisi’s comment, considered a light-hearted attempt to show disapproval while connecting with the nation’s youth, was greeted with applause and laughter in the room and predictably generated a considerable amount of comment and discussion on social media, with some people sharing images of the young people in the audience laughing.
“I think it creates a funny atmosphere on social media after a series of negative news stories, especially those related to the increasing prices of commodities,” said journalist Maryam Roushdy. “It is a good thing for the world to share one thing, even if it is virtually — it creates a state of connection.
“The president’s comment about Kiki and how he linked it with the increasing oil prices, he thought it was a funny one but actually many people perceived it as a provocative comment. Such comments reveal how the system is totally detached from ordinary Egyptian citizens who are striving to put food on the table for their children in light of the latest increases in the cots of everything.”
As it has in many countries, #Kiki has become a trending hashtag on Twitter and other social-networking sites in Egypt, with many people uploading videos of themselves, their friends or relatives performing the challenge around the country.
It began about a month ago when US-based Internet comedian Shiggy, real name Shaquille Mitchell, posted a video of himself dancing to the Drake song. It went viral after celebrities picked up on it, including regional actresses Dina El-Sherbini, Yasmin Raies and Dorra Zarrouk. Even the Egyptian national soccer team captain and goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, posted a video on his official Facebook page of himself performing the challenge. And young people cannot get enough of it.
“I love it. It is so much fun, challenging and some people are very creative,” said Egyptian Nora Tawakol. “Some people are artistic by nature and some try their best to dance good... it’s entertaining and I love to watch people dancing it on YouTube. I am not surprised it went viral.”
“The challenge is really fun as it shows the creativity of each person performing the dance and wearing different clothing. It is a short video clip but can’t be done in a main road because of the danger; that’s the bad side of it but, overall, it’s nice”, said 26-year-old Sara Salah, from Cairo.
Not everyone is so amused, however.
Many police forces worldwide have criticized the craze and warned of the danger it poses, both to the dancers and other people. In Egypt, the Interior Ministry said that performing the challenge on public roads violates traffic laws and anyone caught doing so faces the possibility of prosecution and a year in jail.
“The challenge is not funny. There is considerable danger behind it because of the dancer exiting and leaving the car without a driver or getting off from the other side without looking at the road is a huge risk. The police must take strict action on the performer,” said Abdel Rahman El-Sanhoury, a 30-year-old Egyptian.
The Kiki challenge has already cost a student in Egypt $60 after being arrested.
Police in Cairo arrested him after identifying him from a video in which he performed the Kiki challenge while driving a car on a public street, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.
“We are a country known for road accidents so we are not ready to have challenges with cars in the streets. It doesn’t make sense,” said Arwa Tarek, 30-year-old Egyptian.
Police around the world have warned people against doing the Kiki challenge, after videos emerged of several people injuring themselves or crashing their cars while doing the challenge.

Prison becomes ‘second home’ for Turkish cartoonist

Updated 18 min 54 sec ago

Prison becomes ‘second home’ for Turkish cartoonist

  • Unfailingly optimistic and modest, Kart refuses to be run down by his ordeals

ISTANBUL: Renowned Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart says he has spent as much time in prison and courthouses as he has at work since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power.

His latest stint in jail started in April, after an appeals court upheld his sentence of three years and nine months for “helping terrorist organizations.”

Released last week pending another appeal, Kart told AFP: “For 15 years, prisons and courthouses have become a second home to me.”

Kart, who was recognized last year by the Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace, was among 14 journalists and staff from the renowned opposition paper Cumhuriyet convicted in the case.

He was initially arrested in 2016 after Erdogan launched a major crackdown on opponents in the wake of a failed coup.

“I have spent almost the same amount of time in court corridors as I spent in the paper. It is very unfortunate,” he told AFP.

Unfailingly optimistic and modest, Kart refuses to be run down by his ordeals, and says he always made an effort to look his best for prison visitors.

“I never welcomed my visitors in a hopeless state,” he said. “I would shave, pick my cleanest shirt from my modest wardrobe and welcome them with open arms. We would spend our time telling jokes.” His morale was boosted by the knowledge he had done nothing wrong.

“If you believe that your position is right, if you have an inner peace about your past actions, then it is not that difficult to stand prison conditions,” he said. Kart has been in and out of trouble since Erdogan took power in 2003.

His first lawsuit came in 2005 over a cartoon portraying Erdogan, then prime minister, as a cat entangled in a ball of wool.

“I have drawn cartoons for over 40 years ... I did it in the past with other political leaders, but I was never the subject of a court case,” Kart said. 

“The frame of tolerance has seriously narrowed today.”

The current case against him claims he contacted members of the Gulen movement accused of orchestrating the failed coup in 2016. 

It also says the 14 Cumhuriyet staffers had conspired to change the paper’s editorial policy to support the Gulenists, as well as Kurdish rebels and the ultra-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front.

“Today the accusations of terrorism have gone well beyond a realistic point,” Kart said.

“When you take a look at my cartoons, you see how much I am against any kind of terrorist organization and how seriously and strongly I criticize them.”

Rights advocates including the Reporters Without Borders have called on Turkey to revise its anti-terrorism and defamation laws, which they claim are abused to silence opponents.

Cumhuriyet — Turkey’s oldest daily founded in 1924 — is not owned by a business tycoon but by an independent foundation, making it an easier target for authorities.

The paper’s former editor-in-chief Can Dundar fled to Germany after being convicted in 2016 over an article alleging that Turkey had supplied weapons to Islamist groups in Syria.

It has its own internal problems, too — Kart and some of the others actually quit the paper last year over disagreements with the new management.

But the case has added to the chilling effect that has infected the whole of the media in Turkey, which has the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world.

No date has been set for the next appeal, and Kart has no idea how the saga will end.

“Everyone knows that there has been a political shadow hanging over our case,” he said.

Whatever happens, he said his focus would remain on drawing.

“Cartoons are really a very strong language because you can find a way to express yourself under any circumstances, even under pressure.”