A Cairo misdemeanor court acquitted on Saturday writer Ahmed Nagy for charges of “violating general morals and encouraging indecent sexual behavior.”
In August 2014, the state owned literary journal Akhbar Al-Adab, which is published by Akhbar Al-Youm, ran a chapter from a novel named The Usage of Life, written by journalist Nagy.
The full novel was released by Tanweer publishing house in Cairo in 2015.
The prosecution charged Nagy with writing material "to spew sexual lust and transient pleasures, using his pen to express wicked intents, thus violating societal norms of decency and inciting promiscuity.”
The journal's editor-in-chief, Tarek El-Taher, was also acquitted after being charged with failing to review published content.
Naji's trial started on 14 Nov 2014 after a complaint was issued to the police by Hani Saleh Tawfik, a citizen who claimed that Naji published a “sexually flagrant article” in a state-owned newspaper, which had caused him to “experience heart palpitations and an extreme feeling of sickness along with a sharp drop in blood pressure” due to the “indecency” of the text.
Egyptian prosecution referred Naji and El-Taher to criminal court and the case was postponed twice before they were cleared of all charges today.
The case caused an outcry among intellectuals who considered referring Naji and El-Taher to the court for publishing a chapter of a novel a dangerous violation of freedom of expression.
The prosecution memo to the court said the writer published a "flagrant erotic article in which the charged writer published a text that spewed sexual lust and transient pleasures, using his mind and pen to violate public decency and good morals, inciting promiscuity."
Following the accusations, Naji said on his Facebook page, "I would like to assert that the published text is fictional and all the events and actions in it are from my imagination. It is not a journalistic essay and I'm asking my fellow journalists to explain this difference," adding that "the world is full of surprises and the distinction between reality and fiction has become very tiring.”