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3omri Ana..

Gamal Abd E-Nasser

Part 6


Salah Jaheen

...hwa 2alam Masr


Salah Jaheen Sign

When Salah Jaheen, Egypt’s leading political cartoonist, was visiting the United States in 1964, he was invited to the home of a Jewish family in a small town whose name he has forgotten. "The wife brought me a cartoon from an Egyptian magazine with a Jewish stereotype ط·آ£ط¢آ¢ط£آ¢أ¢â‚¬ع‘ط¢آ¬ط£آ¢أ¢â€ڑآ¬أ¢â‚¬إ’ a crooked nose. I said that this was a stupid cartoonist who doesn't know anything.

"For years our cartoonists made a terrible mistake by drawing horrible Israeli characters. There is a joke that when the Egyptian soldiers came back from the front they said1we weren't fighting Jews because they didn't have dark beards and horrible noses."

If one is looking for the image that a country has of itself and its enemies, political cartoons are a good place to start. All the more so in a nation like Egypt where the illiteracy rate approaches 70 per cent and a picture can truly be worth 1000 words.

In Cairo, political cartoons begin with Salah Jaheen, who draws for Al Ahram, Egypt's leading newspaper. Jaheen is a mountain of a man, whose round, multi-chinned, mobile face is recognized by peasants, taxi-drivers, students, and most of the general multitude. He is known as a funnyman ط·آ£ط¢آ¢ط£آ¢أ¢â‚¬ع‘ط¢آ¬ط£آ¢أ¢â€ڑآ¬أ¢â‚¬إ’ not only a cartoonist, but a writer of clever song lyrics (he wrote Egypt's national anthem), an actor, film scenarist, puppeteer, dramatist, and a sensitive and revered poet.

But since the Six Days War in June 1967 he has had frequent periods of gloom and despair at the economic and political malaise into which the defeat thrust his country. And the Egyptian success in the 1973 war has not totally lifted his spirits. His brow furrows into a huge crease when he talks of this last war, his top chin burrows down into its neighbor, as he slouches behind a shiny black oversized desk in his office apartment, beneath a framed photo of Gamal Abdel Nasser, his emotional hero, presenting him with an award in the mid 1950’s. He broods, "I didn't change much after 1973. Maybe I don't think things have changed that much. I'm not sure they will. I had my euphoria in the socialism of the 1950's and the early 1960's. Now other people are having theirs with dreams of capitalism in the 1970’s. But do you really believe the United States and Faisal will let Egypt get strong? Do you really think either one will give us the money?"

Jaheen's skepticism shows in his cartoons. They are never vicious. But they show his bitterness towards the Israelis for destroying his country's economic prospects in war and for displacing the Palestinians. His Israeli figures are warlike and uncompromising, insensitive to Palestinian suffering and indifferent to world peace. At the same time he is critical of his own country, for engaging in a war in 1967 that it was unprepared to fight, for economic disorganization and government corruption. "I made some cartoons of Egypt as her own worst enemy," he told me. "I had (former Prime Minister) Golda (Meir) say to a friend, 'Don't do anything to the Egyptians. They will destroy themselves. '"

Jaheen & the Cartoon.

Founder of the Modern Egyptian School of Cartoon

The all-round Salah Jaheen set standards that are unlikely to be surpassed in the literary and artistic circles. Jaheen shone at all the posts to which he was appointed. He was the first cartoonist offered the editorship of a weekly magazine in Egypt. The national awakening that accompanied the 1952 Revolution was best illustrated throughout his poetry, musicals and cartoons.

The creative colloquial poetry he composed is considered as the 1952 Revolution’s historical record - hence the title "Poet of the Revolution".

Mohammed Salah el-Din Helmi Bahgat, known as Salah Jaheen, was born on 25 December 1930 in Cairo. His father was a judge and the family had to move from one governorate to another. This, however, helped shape his patriotic fervour which was manifested in his attitude towards the Revolution. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in law.

Jaheen & Cartoon

Jaheen’s career in journalism started in the early 50’s. In 1955, he worked as an amateur cartoonist in Rose El-Youssef. One year later, when the first issue of Sabah el-Khair saw the light of day, he turned professional. There, he had the opportunity to shine to such an extent that he was appointed Editor-in-Chief. In 1957, Jaheen visited the former Soviet Union, then, wrote a book entitled "A Flower in Moscow" about his impression of the journey. In 1964, Jaheen moved to "Al-Ahram".

At the age of 13, Jaheen’s immense talent for drawing first appeared. When he was a student in Assuit preparatory school, the art teacher asked his student to draw a picture of a storm in a forest. Jaheen’s picture gained the teacher’s admiration and drew his attention to the remarkable talent the little boy possessed. The teacher’s words were a great encouragement to him. His father who was an art-lover always encouraged him to develop his talent. Jaheen’s cartoons did serve to highlight vital issues in Egypt and the Arab World as well. He is the founder of the modern Egyptian cartoon school. The brilliant success of Jaheen’s cartoons arose out of the fact that he done them in the best interest of the people. Among Jaheen’s remarkably innumerable cartoon series were Hashish Addicts, Vigor Coffee-house and the Government Departments.

Jaheen & Colloquial Poetry

Jaheen’s colloquial poetry bore many interesting features of the cartoons he did. It is mainly characterized by the creative use of lexical items, startlingly intense images and well-planned compact structures. It becomes very dear to every heart once read or listened to. Jaheen, thus, set the trend for others to follow.

His quatrains written in 1963 mark the emergence of situation poetry as a genre of modern folk literature. They successfully manifest Jaheen’s philosophical viewpoint of life, death, existence, man and the eternal struggle between good and evil. Each of Jaheen’s quatrains ends ironically with "Wonders will Never Cease!".

Jaheen & Songwriting

Jaheen introduced a wide range of vocabulary that was only used in political articles to songwriting. Among the songs that helped create the revolutionary awareness and stir the patriotic fervour were: "We’re the People", Jaheen’s first song written in 1956, "Oh Weapon, Be Ready", "Rebels", "Oh Freedom, Here’s Nasser", "Welcome Battles" and "Paradise is my Country" .

The simplicity and spontaneity of Jaheen’s songs which evoke echoes of that cherished epoch in Egypt’s modern history make them remembered for ever. The last song he wrote was" Those are the Egyptians".

Jaheen, Visual Arts

In the film industry, Jaheen was a producer, scriptwriter and actor as well. In December 1969, Jaheen produced five television musicals, all based on popular folk tales, such as "The Zoo" and "Hashim and Rawhiya". He also wrote the "Ramadan Riddles" for television for several successive years.

As an actor, Jaheen played a variety of roles in "No Time for Love", "The Thief and the Dogs", "The Martyr of Divine Love", "The Mamelukes", to name but a few.

He wrote the scripts of the television drama serial "He and She" and of many cinema films - "The Return of the Lost Son", "Be careful, she is Zozo", "Amira My Sweetheart" and "Shafiqa and Metwalli", giving only these as examples.

Jaheen also wrote for the puppet theatre. His first production "Hassan the Shrewd" written in 1958 was followed by "A Feddan of Freedom" and "The Devil’s Mill". As nothing succeeds like success, Jaheen, then, wrote his remarkably distinguished masterpiece "The Big Night" operetta.

He created most of the children’s television puppet serials favorite characters such as "Shehab el-Din’s Donkey" "Nono the Elephant" and "The Chatterbox". It is no wonder that, in September 1962, the Ministry of Culture assigned Jaheen the task of setting up a committee on children’s culture.


In December 1965 Salah Jaheen was awarded Order of Science and Arts First Class

After October war

by salah jaheen

Salah Jahin was not only a poet, playwright, lyricist, cartoonist and painter but also used artistic expression to serve his thought. His art and thought always had patriotic motives.

    Salah Jahin (1930 - 1986) has had a singular effect on development of colloquial Arabic poetry in Egypt.

    To explore a new literary world Fouad Haddad (1930 - 1985) created a colloquial poetry that dared to be not only innovative, but revolutionary. His work legitimized experimentation and the search for new and different resources.

    Salah Jahin mastered colloquial writing with ease, producing poetry of a simple and concise nature with a profound effect.

    His genius lay in his sensitivity, his ability to tune in to the faintest vibrations of feeling in the world around him, his technical resources developed, his work became more spontaneous in its effects. His themes return constantly to the idea of a society struggling to free it-self from the bonds of the past, thus freeing its literary artists to use new forms of expression.