Nov 22 2009

Egypt's first graphic novel banned, publisher fined LE 5,000

CAIRO: The author of Egypt's first graphic novel, which on Saturday was officially banned, has vowed to fight the ruling.

"I'll appeal the verdict. I will not accept [a punishment] for something that I did not do," Magdy L Shafee, author of the banned graphic novel, "Metro," told Daily News Egypt.

Qasr El-Nil misdemeanors court on Saturday found Shafee and "Metro" publisher Mohamed El-Sharqawy guilty of printing and distributing a publication infringing public decency, and handed down a LE 5,000 fine against both of them.

The court also rejected the appeal against the administrative ban imposed by a vice squad -- and subsequently confirmed by the public prosecution office -- that seized all copies of the comic in April 2008, a few months after its publication.

Shafee told Daily News Egypt that he was aware that sections of Metro -- which contains limited content of a sexual nature -- might offend some readers and that it was for this reason that a " for adults only" warning was put on the front cover. Shafee added that the comic's content does not mean that it should be removed from the market.

"It is unethical to suppress freedom of speech and take books off the market," Shafee said. "This is about more than 'Metro.' If we stay passive we will lose our rights."

Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) director Gamal Eid said that "there is no country which exercises liberty and bans novels," adding that the court objected to some of the "crude language" used in the novel despite the fact that "this is the exact same language used in the street."

Eid also added that defense lawyers submitted to the courts images published in daily newspaper Rose El-Youssef which were "more lewd" than the graphics in "Metro" that the court objected to.

Defense lawyers had argued both the unconstitutionality of the articles under which these charges were brought, and that no violation occurred because the events described in the work occur in an artistic and dramatic context.

ANHRI was one of three human rights organizations that condemned the verdict "as a serious setback to the right to creativity and freedom of expression."

The organizations' statement, issued Saturday, added, "Courtrooms are not the place for literary criticism." -Additional reporting by Omnia Al Desoukie

By Sarah Carr

© Daily News Egypt 2009

© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.

Be the first to comment

Send This Article To Your Friends

All fields are required.

Use commas for multiple email addresses

We'll use your email address to send the article on your behalf and it will not be collected or used for any other purposes.