The Comic Book Which Rocked the World

Apparently the hottest reading in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East right now is a comic book

Only instead of phantasmal “super-heroes” with otherworldly super-powers, this book is about normal folks, a real “super-hero” who inspired with words and faith, and a key event in American Civil Rights – The Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story (Visit this site to read the books in English, Arabic, or Farsi)

HAMSA, in conjunction with our parent organization AIC, is proud to announce the release of a groundbreaking Arabic edition of a 50-year-old comic book on Martin Luther King and the power of nonviolence. Several thousand copies were printed in Cairo, as part of an effort spearheaded by AIC-Egypt Director Dalia Ziada (right). They are being distributed across the Middle East.

Called “The Montgomery Story,” the comic book was published in 1958 and helped inspire the American civil-rights movement in the 1960s. In 2008, it was translated and designed by young reformers in the Mideast. It features full-color panels depicting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a campaign to end segregation on buses in the capitol of Alabama. The comic book ends with a section on “how the Montgomery Method works,” outlining essential techniques of nonviolence.

After an initial run of just 2,500 books – the Montgomery Story and King’s message has caught on like wildfire throughout the Middle East. Copies are available online, and are being actively distributed electronically by bloggers across the Internet.

The Arabic comic book has now been distributed in print and on-line to a network of young activists and bloggers throughout the Middle East, including Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen. Feedback has been enthusiastic. At a book fair in the Egyptian industrial city of Mahalla, one woman grabbed the comic book with passion and scanned the cover, asking, “Is this Gamal Abdel Nasser?”

Farsi version of the comic was rushed into production in June of 2009 as post-election protests were erupting. Translators in Iran helped put it together in a week, and the comic was soon being distributed digitally. The Montgomery Bus Boycott had resonance in Iran with the 2005 Tehran bus protests, which made headlines when one trade unionist, Mansour Osanloo, had his tongue cut by members of the Islamic Republic for seeking improved working conditions for his fellow bus drivers.

As with the violence in Iran, “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story” cautioned that brutality often accompanies steps towards peace. Scenes of a Ku Klux Klan parade, a cross burning, and the bombings of Negro churches and homes were vividly depicted within its pages. An impassioned King is seen imploring an angry crowd:

“Please be peaceful. We believe in law and order. We are not advocating violence. I want you to love our enemies, for what we are doing is right, what we are doing is just – and God is with us.”

The Revolution may not be televised… But it will cover the world.

BTW kiddies, this has also been translated into Vietnamese and Spanish…

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