Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of social justice and nonviolent protest may have prompted thousands of Egyptian activists to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D) told MSNBC a 50-year-old comic book about the slain civil right’s leader and the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott has gained notoriety in the Arab world.
“Egypt is a reliable, dependable friend of the United States of America, but what we’re witnessing is a nonviolent revolution occurring in Egypt and we must be on the right side of history. … I just heard a day or two ago that more than 250,000 copies of the Montgomery Story in comic book form was distributed throughout Egypt and it was copied and translated. I believe many of the people in the streets today have been deeply inspired by the civil rights movement in America and deeply inspired by Martin Luther King …”
The Montgomery Story was first published in 1956 and highlighted the bus boycott that ended the city’s segregated transportation policies. Although it garnered little attention stateside, Egyptian blogger Dalia Ziada translated the comic book into Farsi and Arabic in 2008. According to her blog, the Arabic and Farsi translations inspired Vietnamese activists and Montgomery Story is now being distributed throughout other Asian countries.
“The main message I hope that Arabic readers will take from the MLK comic book is that: change is not impossible. It is time to stop using our muscles blindly,” said Ziada, director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC) – a activist group created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks – according to TheGrio.com. “Let’s try using our intellect in innovative, creative ways to pressure decision makers and end dictatorship, tyranny and the suppression practiced against us.”