Egypt MP says Naguib Mahfouz should have been prosecuted for violating public morality

Monday 28-11-2016 04:28 PM

Egyptian Parliament - Aswat Masriya

CAIRO, Nov 28 (Aswat Masriya) – An Egyptian MP said that late Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz should have been put on trial for violating public morality, amid discussions to amend a law related to publishing crimes on Monday.

Parliament member Aboul-Maaty Mostafa was among a majority of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs parliamentary committee who rejected a proposal to amend Article 178 in the Egyptian Penal Code on Monday.

The proposal called for modifying the current law which stipulates prison sentence of a maximum of two years and fines for whoever manufactures or possesses materials that violate public morals. Instead, supporters of the proposal wanted to limit the punishment to "a fine of not less than EGP 5,000 and not exceeding EGP 50,000."

When confronted by parliament member Ahmed Said that some of Mahfouz's novels as "Sugar Street" and "Palace of Desire" contained bold themes, Mostafa said that the late Nobel laureate should have been prosecuted as these novels violated the public modesty, but “no one filed a case back then.” 

Mostafa added that the constitution stressed on the importance of protecting public morals or maintaining public order. 

Mahfouz, who died in 2006 at the age of 94, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988. The academy noted in its citation for the prize that Mahfouz, “through works rich in nuance—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind.”

Egyptian author Ahmed Naji is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for publishing a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel “The Use of Life” in Akhbar El-Adab newspaper.

The case dates back to 2014, after a reader filed a complaint claiming that the text caused him to "experience heart palpitations and an extreme feeling of sickness along with a sharp drop in blood pressure”. Naji was accused of publishing “a text that spewed sexual lust and transient pleasures, violating public decency and good morals, inciting promiscuity.” 

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