Calls for solidarity as court hear third appeal to release writer Ahmed Naji

Ahram Online , Friday 25 Nov 2016

Naji was first referred to a misdemeanor court in November 2015, cleared of all charges, though later prosecuted upon appeal

Ahmed Naji
Writer Ahmed Naji (Photo: Al-Ahram)

'Egypt Art on Trial' campaign called on Friday for a blogging campaign in solidarity with jailed writer Ahmed Naji.

The campaign comes just one day before Bulaq Abu El-Aila Misdemeanour court will hear on Saturday the third defence's motion for a stay of the two year sentence issued against Naji for his novel "Use of Life."

 A statement on Facebook from the campaign says that it is "against the existence of such a charge as breaching public modesty, and that article 178 of criminal law restricts the freedom of writing and creativity, contradicts the Egyptian constitution and should be amended.”

Naji's defence team has already filed two motions to suspend the implementation of the sentence in the case in July and August though they were both overruled.

Also, in late April, Naji's defence team also filed an appeal before the Court of Cassation, yet a court session has not been set.

The campaign also called on its Facebook page for "all writers, journalists, human rights lawyers and those interested in freedom of expression and creativity to attend the court session," on Saturday as form of solidarity.

Naji was handed a two-year prison sentence in February by a North Cairo appeals court for publishing a “sexually flagrant article” in the state-owned cultural newspaper Akhbar Al-Adab.

The prosecutor accused Naji of publishing a "flagrantly 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."

Naji was first referred to the misdemeanor court in November 2015 and was cleared of all charges in January 2016. However, the verdict was appealed by the prosecutor which resulted in the two-year sentence for Naji.

The initial decision to refer Naji to court came after one of the newspaper's readers, known as Hani Saleh Tawfik, filed a legal complaint claiming that the text in question 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.


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