Metropolitan books is set to publish a graphic novel by Magdy al-Shafei, which was banned in Egypt during the Mubarak era, in the U.S., an Egyptian English-language website reported on Wednesday.
Al-Shafei’s Metro was originally to be published in 2008 by Malameh, owned by Mohammed al-Sharkawi, but police broke into the publishing house, confiscated the novel and arrested al-Shafei and al-Sharkawi, al-Ahram Online reported.
Metropolitan Books, based in New York, publishes non-fiction and fiction, both American and international, in a variety of genres.
Al-Shafei’s novel targets an adult audience and sheds a light on a modern Cairo pulsing with corruption and hypocrisy. Among accusations made against al-Shafei was that the story negatively portrays the Egyptian police. He was also attacked for mentioning homosexuality.
The attorney who filed the complaint against Metro, Saleh al-Derbashy, told al-Ahram Online that despite those topics being present and accepted in regular literature, their graphic depiction renders the book “dangerous” and “disturbing to public morals.”
The Hisham Mubarak Law Center defended al-Shafei’s case in court, but the book was banned, and the author and publisher were fined LE 5,000.
Al-Shafei is an Egyptian cartoonist who started his career in 2003. He launched the first comics website in Arabic and has published many works in Egypt.