Writer and journalist Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison on Saturday by the Bulaq Criminal Court for publishing ‘sexually explicit’ content in state-owned newspaper Akhbar Al-Adab, last year.
Tareq El-Taher, editor-in-chief of Akhbar Al-Adab, was also fined 10,000 EGP.
Naji and El-Taher were originally charged in November last year, and a court’s order on 2 January this year cleared the defendants of all charges, but the prosecution appealed the court’s order.
Naji had published excerpts from his novel Istikhdam el Hayah (Using Life), which tells the story of a man lost in a “spiderweb of emotional frustration and failure,” and the novel explicitly describes sexual acts.
Hani Saleh Tawfik was the one who initially filed a legal complaint against the text, as he stated that it caused him “to experience heart palpitations and an extreme feeling of sickness along with a sharp drop in blood pressure” due to its indecent nature.
Journalists Syndicate board member Khaled al-Balshy said that the verdict is a clear violation of the constitution, which states: “Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed. Every individual has the right to express an opinion and to disseminate it verbally, in writing or as an illustration, or by any other means of expression or publication.”
“This is literally a prosecution of the writer’s imagination,” al-Balshy continued.
This is the latest prosecution in a large number of trials against journalists and writers in recent years. In December 2015, Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Egypt as the country with the second-highest number of jailed journalists in the world.
*Information gathered from Ahram Online, Egyptian Streets, and Mada Masr
*Featured Image Credit: Al-Ahram