The international writers association PEN called for the immediate release of journalist and novelist Ahmed Nagy and decried the deteriorating situation of freedom of expression in Egypt.
“Pen International is deeply concerned by the news that Egyptian novelist Ahmed Nagy who was sentenced on 20 February 2016 to two years in prison for ‘violating public modesty’,” the organisation’s statement read.
It called for appeals to be sent to Egyptian authorities to demand the release of Nagy and “all other writers and journalists currently detained in Egypt in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.”
The London-based association, with over 25,000 members from more than 100 countries, said it has been monitoring many cases of writers and journalists who have been jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly including during in the carrying out duties related to journalism and human rights.
The Bulaq Criminal Court sentenced Nagy Saturday to two years in prison on charges of publishing and writing “obscene sexual content”.
The court also ordered editor of Akhbar Al-Adab Tarek Al-Taher to pay a fine of EGP 10,000 after a chapter of Nagy’s novel The Use of Life was published in the literary journal, a subsidiary of state-owned Akhbar Al-Youm. The novel was previously published by Dar El-Tanweer publishing house.
The sentence against Nagy and Al-Taher was condemned and criticised as unconstitutional by many politicians, writers, media figures, associations, and parties yet the biggest boost for the campaign in defence of Nagy and Al-Taher came when the Minister of Culture expressed his solidarity.
“Imprisonment as a punishment for writing is not appropriate for this age and this country,” Helmy El-Namnam said during a solidarity conference Thursday at the Press Syndicate. “The problem is with the penal code articles that allow jailing over publishing cases. After two revolutions, those articles should have been abolished.”