Leading Egyptian lawyer challenges country's restrictive censorship law

Leading Egyptian lawyer challenges country's restrictive censorship law
2 min read
13 December, 2015
An Egyptian lawyer is challenging a controversial law that could see writers jailed for 'violating public morals'.
The Egyptian government has come under attack for censorship of writers [Getty]
An Egyptian lawyer said he will challenge a controversial morality law that threatens novelists with jail for writing about sex or drugs.

Nasser Amin requested that a case against Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji be suspended, who is standing trial for work that prosecutors say is sexually explicit and could face two years in jail and a fine of $1,245.

Amin requested a constitutional court review the law, citing two articles in the constitution that prohibit imprisonment for published material, except for cases that encourage violence, are discriminatory, and in incidents of defamation.

The case stems from an excerpt of Naji's novel, The Use of Life, published in Akhbar al-Adab magazine in August 2014.

The novel contains sex scenes and references to habitual hashish use by the characters.

The prosecution insisted the excerpt be treated as a work of journalism.

Amin linked the prosecution to a crackdown in Egypt over the past two years against Islamists following the July 2013 overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He said that authorities have also arrested secular artists and writers to show that they are not just targeting Islamists.

"Outside this hall ... is a repressive authority which claims it is protecting the homeland and virtue from (the Islamists)," he said.

"Each of them tries to overstate over the other who is the more protective of virtue and morals."

Amin served as an alternate member of the committee that drafted Egypt's current constitution.