Mickey Mouse expelled from Egypt schools

Pyramids at Cairo, 2018 Image copyright KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Qalyubia lies north of Cairo

Children in a province north of Cairo may face the new school year without familiar Disney characters to cheer them up, it's reported.

The governor of Qalyubia has decreed that cartoon images of Mickey Mouse and his friends on the walls of pre-schools must be replaced by "military heroes", the Youm7 news site reports.

"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. These characters are US-made, whereas we have our own noble figures who can deepen children's patriotism and love of country," Alaa Abdul-Halim Mohammed Marzouk told reporters.

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A Ministry of Education official in Qalyubia told Youm7 that a committee would see how the governor's orders should be implemented across the whole province.

The Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi - a former general - is keen to raise the profile of the military in all spheres of public life, in particular education.

Soldiers killed in clashes with Islamist extremists in the Sinai Peninsula are lauded as "martyrs" in the official media, and their families are honoured at official ceremonies.

'Do our children deserve this?'

But Governor Marzouk's decree has come in for mockery on social media, with many users arguing that the authorities need to focus more on crammed classrooms and old-fashioned teaching methods.

Image copyright Twitter/Youm7
Image caption Youm7 tweeted Disney images in a typical Qalyubia kindergarten

"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," tweeted one users, referring to a comic that puts Disney characters in an Egyptian setting.

Journalist Mohamed Ragab wrote "Somebody should tell His Highness the Governor that his decision has turned him into a cartoon character."

Some objected to "hanging photos of the dead on the school walls", asking "what have our children done to deserve this?"

But a few people did applaud the initiative. "It's good that we teach our children about the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the people of Egypt. My regards to the governor of Qalyubia," was one online comment.

Disney characters may strike a particular raw nerve with the Egyptian authorities, London's Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news site reports. A Facebook user was sentenced to three years in jail in 2015 for posting a photoshopped image of President Sisi with Mickey Mouse ears.

Reporting by Rana Taha and Martin Morgan

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