Egypt’s most celebrated literary figures, Bahaa Taher and Gamal El-Ghitani, said Thursday, 6 September, they will not attend today's planned meeting of intellectual and artists with President Mohamed Morsi.
The meeting will include around 140 intellectuals and artists from various veins to discuss the big issues of arts and culture in post-revolution Egypt.
Writer and novelist Bahaa Taher, 77, told Ahram Online that his weakened health and old age keep him from attending such a large meeting. “The political circumstances in which this meeting is being held keeps me from attending, too,” he added, refusing to discuss further the circumstances he meant.
Gamal El-Ghitani said he wouldn’t attend a meeting with more than 140 invitees and a limited time of three hours.
“I do not object to meeting the president in principle, but with such a big number, this would be a demonstration, not a meeting where I can raise my questions and concerns on the future of freedom of speech and creativity, and of course what I call the accelerated process of "Brotherhooding" the country. If every one of the attendees spoke only for two minutes there would be no time for a real discussion,” he explained.
El-Ghitani described the current situation of free speech, freedom of creativity and public freedoms in Egypt as “confusing,” thus it needs real discussion — one that dives deep into the roots of the problem, not a meeting that would end up becoming an occasion to take pictures with the president.