Egypt to put editor and writer on trial for sexually explicit writing

The editor-in-chief and a writer for Egypt’s top literary magazine for publishing sexually explicit material

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Egypt’s prosecution has referred to trial the editor-in-chief and a writer for Egypt’s top literary magazine for publishing sexually explicit material and allegedly violating public morals.

Mahmoud Othman, a lawyer representing writer Ahmed Naji, said prosecution officials had told him on Sunday that Naji and editor Tarek el-Taher’s case had been designated as a misdemeanour.

Othman says Naji faces up to two years in jail or a fine up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds (£800) if found guilty. The first court session is slated for 14 November.

Naji said the story began when Akhbar al-Adab magazine published an excerpt from Naji’s novel The Guide for Using Life in August 2014. It contains explicit sex acts and references to habitual cannabis use by the characters.

He said lawyers were told during investigations that the lawsuit was originally filed by a citizen who said his heartbeat fluctuated, blood pressure dropped, and he became severely ill upon reading the chapter in the magazine. But it was up to prosecutors to decide whether the lawsuit was worthy to be referred to trial.

Naji says his book, printed in Beirut, has already been approved by Egyptian censors. The novel is available in local bookstores, and is rated 3.5 out of five stars on goodreads.com.

Naji and Othman said the prosecution is dealing with the legality of the excerpt as if it’s simply a magazine article, not part of a novel.

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