Security authorities confiscated on Tuesday night a novel by a Nubian author Idris Ali that tackles social conditions in Libya in the late 1970s and arrested El-Demeiry Ahmed, the novel’s publisher. Security services believe that the novel, called "Leader Shaves His Hair," insults Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi.
It remains unclear at what point the novel was confiscated. While Sawasya Human Rights Center said the book has been lifted from the publisher’s pavilion at Cairo International Book Fair, Helmi el-Namnam, vice manager for the General Egyptian Book Organization, denied that the novel was among the books exhibited, saying that Waad, Ahmed’s publishing house, did not participate in the first place.
Sawasya said that the book’s confiscation runs counter to constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression and legal prohibitions against the confiscation of books without legal clearance. The human rights center said that the confiscation is a stain on Egypt’s reputation, particularly because it occurred during the international event.
On the other hand, the head the Egyptian Writers Union, Mohamed Salmawy, said that the lawyer for the association will be present when the author is interrogated before the prosecution, adding that he had called State Security officials and told them that the action damages to the country’s image and makes Egypt look like a police state. Idris Ali is an association member.
Abdel Mouty Hegazy, a poet, said that the action against the novel reflects an ignorance of literature, stressing that a literary work can never be abusive to a specific person since it is the product of the writer’s imagination, even if its characters are found in real life.
Ali has said that his novel does not attack Qadhafi, but rather criticizes the Libyan leader’s ideas through a popular Libyan perspective. Ali also said that the novel, based on his own experience living in Libya, depicts the influence of Qadhafi’s ideas on Libyan society.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.