An Egyptian court has sentenced an author to two years in jail for public indecency following the publication of excerpts from his sexually explicit novel in a literary newspaper.
A chapter from Ahmed Naji’s novel Istikhdam al-Hayat, or Using Life, was serialized in a state-owned literary newspaper and he was taken to court last year by a private citizen who claimed the excerpt caused him distress and heart palpitations.
Naji was initially acquitted in January but the prosecution appealed the ruling and he was sentenced to two years in prison in a retrial on Saturday, his lawyer said. The verdict can be appealed.
In the initial ruling the court said it acquitted Naji because freedom of expression was enshrined in the constitution, adding that morality was subjective. The second court is yet to announce its reasons for overturning that ruling.
The newspaper’s editor was ordered to pay a 10,000 Egyptian pound ($1,277.14) fine. Fellow authors, journalists, and human rights activists criticized this sentence, tagging it as blow to freedom of expression.
Several noted authors, some of whom testified in Naji’s favor at court, and human rights organizations have released statements in solidarity.
Source; Voice of America