In April 2008, freedom of speech and creativity in Egypt was hit in its core with the confiscation of Magdy El Shafee's adult graphic novel – Metro. The author and his publisher went to court and the lost. Dr Youssef Zidane is being accused of blasphemy and defaming Christianity because of his novel Azazeel (Beelzebub). Zidane could face up to five years behind bars. Today Scheherazade of 1001 Nights is being accused of immorality and some lawyers want her dead – in their call for banning the book!
The Chronikler wrote:
in recent weeks when a group calling itself (without a hint of irony) Lawyers Without Shackles tried to shackle the reading choices of Egyptians by calling for a ban of a newly released version of the classic One thousand and one nights saga, with its ensemble of popular and ageless characters, including Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sindbad. Their reason? The centuries-old collection is “obscene” and could lead people to “vice and sin”.
Luckily, Egyptian intellectuals have rallied to defend the classic tales, warning against the increasing “Bedouinisation” of Egyptian culture. This is, perhaps, the most ridiculous example of the recent trend towards, what I call, the retroactive condemnation of published works.
Zeinobia thinks that Scheherazade gave life lessons to her husband over 1001 nights especially in Politics and the art of rule , this is why many people wish to see her dead.
Poor Scheherazade , she made it and her life was spared by her tales in the ancient times where as in the modern times some are trying to ban the tales that saved her and the daughters of her nation for 1000 and 1 nights !!
Zeinobia tell us that:
This was not the first time as it happened before in when 1985 some lawyers wanted to ban that edition from the book.
First of all you must know that the edition they are speaking about is the oldest edition printed from the book in modern Egypt during the time of Mohamed Ali pasha at the famous Imbaba printing house and it was printed after the approval and the revision of Al Azhar ; yes approved by the Al Azhar in the 19th century with its bad NSFW words and imagery !!! Already the last edition available from the Imbaba printing house is the 1935 edition which is not even in Cairo or at the Bibliotheque Alexandrie but rather in University of Toronto !! “Do not ask me how or why !!”
Having read the original – supposedly uncensored version – Zeinobia says:
My own judgment is that this book is amazing with its stories inside stories , a complete different world and yes there is a lot of sex but there are even more racism towards other races too that made me uncomfortable. But other than that well it is fantastic , really fantastic and you would be surprise with the poetry, the proverbs and even the historical incidents mentioned in the book.
And on the issue of immorality, she notes:
The nights book is not the only book with explicit imageries yet for some reason it is only remembered. What we see in TV is much more worse for God sake , just tune in to Melody TV and you will know what I mean.
Mechanical Crowds is unhappy with how Egypt is handling freedom of expression:
Controlling ideas is one of the reasons why Egypt is behind. We gotta get out of this shell and break free. Have you ever compared Egyptian music lyrics to foreign songs? Egyptian songs are always so predictable and shallow and 90% of them about love. There is more to life than boy loves girl! Look at songs from other places and you'll find a lot of creativity & imagination.
On June 9th, the court dismissed the case against the book; Banat Zayed says:
من جهة اخرى، قال النائب العام ان التحقيقات في قضية رواية “عزازيل” التي اعتبرتها الكنيسة القبطية مسيئة للمسيحية، ستعلن خلال الايام القليلة المقبلة.
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General said that the investigations in the case of the novel “Azazeel,” the Coptic Church which was considered offensive to Christianity, will be announced during the next few days.
Meanwhile, blogger Ahmed Al Sabbagh posted links to download the book.