The comedian says his now viral face-swap photo of the president was not ill-intended.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Tanzanian comedian Idris Sultan. Late last month, he was arrested after he posted a photo on social media where he had face swapped an image of President John Pombe Magufuli on his 60th birthday with a caption that read "We swapped roles for a day so that he could enjoy his birthday in peace". Sultan was held by the police under the Cybercrimes Act which makes it illegal for any individual to impersonate another digitally. Yesterday, the comedian apologized to the president, according to The Citizen Tanzania.
Sultan insists that he meant no harm with his image. He says, "My intentions were all good. Unfortunately, they were misinterpreted. Because of that, I thought it is wise to apologize to the president himself if the photos irked him."
What remains to be seen is what the state will require of him going forward. However, the Minister of Natural Resource and Tourism, Hamis Kigwangalla, maintains that Sultan did nothing wrong and has committed to bailing him out should a case be pursued against him.
General censorship and maltreatment of political dissidents in Tanzania are nothing new. In July of this year, investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was taken forcibly from his home is Dar es Salaam by unidentified men claiming to be policemen after he wrote an article which criticized the current government. Business Day reports that a month later, the government charged Kabendera with money laundering, tax evasion and assisting a criminal racket.