The Egyptian novelist Ahmed Nagy was acquitted by the Cairo Bulaq Criminal Court of charges of publishing and writing an article with “obscene sexual content” on 2 January 2016.
The novelist was referred to court in November 2015 after publishing a chapter of his novel ‘The Use of Life’ in Akhbar Al-Adab, a literary journal affiliated with Akhbar Al-Youm, after it had already been published by Dar El-Tanweer publishing house.
The institution of Academic Freedom and Student Rights (AFTE) released a statement following the release saying the acquittal was a beacon of hope for those fighting for freedom of expression and those wanting artistic expression to operate in framework that did not adhere to conservative values.
In 2014, AFTE and Freemuse published the Censors of Creativity report, which outlines the legal and institutional restrictions in place that continue to restrict expression in Egypt and makes recommendations on how to reform these practices.
In its statement AFTE confirms that the acquittal is an affirmation of Article 67 of the Egyptian constitution which protects the right of creativity and freedom of expression. However the statement described the allegation of “offending public morals” as a vague charge that carries no legal definition as to what those morals are or what an offense constitutes and stressed that culture establishments were operating in a hostile environment that necessitated a collective effort to support freedom of expression.
Recently, several Cairo cultural institutions have been shut down by the government such as the Townhouse Gallery, Rawabet Theatre, and Merit Publishing House.
» Daily News Egypt – 2 January 2016:
Novelist Ahmed Nagy acquitted
» Freemuse & AFTE’s Censors of Creativity report
» Artsfreedom.org – 31 December 2015:
Egypt: Authorities shut down respected art gallery in Cairo