Trial Of Egyptian Graphic Novelist Magdi El-Shafei Imminent; Criticism Abounds
The trial of author and publisher Magdi El-Shafei over the content of his graphic novel Metro is set to begin April 4 in the midst of a cascade of protests by human rights organizations. El-Shafei is accused of "publication and distribution of publications contrary to public morals" under two articles of Egyptian penal code. The trial, to be held at Cairo Misdemeanor Court, could end with the author and publisher being imprisoned up to two years.
The case first received attention when police broke into the Malamih publishing house owned by El-Shafei and cleared local bookstores of the book, touted as one of the first graphic novels aimed at an adult Arabic audience. He was charged two days later with what he'll face in court starting Saturday.
Human rights organizations such as the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information protest both the specific case brought against El-Shafei as well as the general idea of a literary work being brought before a criminal court. They also cite the fact that the charge has come from a public prosecutor as particularly dangerous.