Court Rejects Motion to Suspend Egyptian Novelist's Prison Sentence
Ahmed Naji with his novel. (Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi/Facebook)
CAIRO—A local court denied the stay of execution request for novelist Ahmed Naji today. Naji is currently serving a two-year prison sentence that was handed down in February.
The verdict found him culpable for the explicit sexual content in his novel, Istikhdam al-Hayah (“Using Life”). The trouble arose from a chapter Naji published in the state-affiliated literary journal Akhbar Al-Adab back in 2014. A reader filed a complaint following the chapter’s appearance, claiming that the text caused him to "experience heart palpitations and an extreme feeling of sickness along with a sharp drop in blood pressure.” The journal's editor was ordered to pay a fine of EGP 10,000 for the incident.
Naji’s defense team submitted an appeal to suspend his prison sentence, but the Bulaq Abu Al-Aila misdemeanor court denied it. Naji was initially acquitted during his first trial in January. Upon appeal, however, the accusation of violating public modesty stuck and resulted in his imprisonment.
There is hope that Naji may be released yet. His lawyers filed another appeal in April—this time before the Court of Cassation. They are currently waiting for the session to be scheduled.
A version of this article was originally published in Aswat Masriya.