Tom and Jerry are… terrorists? Egyptian official blames kids' cartoon for rise of ISIS

© Jonni Valentayn
The head of Egypt’s State Information Service believes he has pinpointed the cause of increasing violence and extremism in the Middle East. It’s cartoon cat and mouse duo, Tom and Jerry, he says.

During an address at Cairo University on Tuesday, Salah Abdel Sadek blamed the classic cartoons, which feature comically unrealistic “battles” between a dim-witted cat and cunning mouse, for encouraging young men towards violent actions.

Abdel Sadek also claimed video games and “violent” movies play an important influential role alongside the cartoons.

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“Video games are spreading… 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,” he said, according to Egyptian Streets.

Speaking of Tom and Jerry, Abdel Sadek suggested the show facilitates violent behavior by creating the impression that violence is natural.

“It 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,” he said.

He added that when young people are put under social pressure to resort to violence, they consider it normal and justifiable.

Abdel Sadek’s comments have been met with ridicule on social media.

Violence on TV and in video games have long been blamed for a surge in real life violence.

In 2012, the NRA (National Rifle Association) blamed violent  video games for mass shootings in the US.

The Simpsons famously created a satire around onscreen violence and censorship in an episode where baby Maggie attacks her father Homer with a mallet, and Marge blames it on the “Itchy and Scratchy Show” - a parody of Tom and Jerry.

However, research on any potential link between violent video games and violent behavior has produced differing results.

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Massachusetts General Hospital countered the NRA’s claim in 2012 by saying that scientific research had not demonstrated the lobby group’s “assertion that violent video games and movies cause violent behavior.”

A recent study by the American Psychological Association concluded playing violent video games is linked to increased aggression in players, but noted insufficient evidence exists about whether the link actually extends to criminal violence or delinquent behavior.