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Police raid publishing house, seize copies of novel

(HRinfo/IFEX) - On 15 April 2008, a police force led by a colonel raided the Cairo-based Malameh publishing house, which is owned by blogger Muhammad Al Sharkawi, and confiscated copies of a novel entitled "Metro". The police officers advised one of the Malameh employees that Al Sharkawi and the novel's author should appear before the police bureau. HRinfo noted with concern that the police force which carried out the raid is affiliated with the discipline police.

"Metro" is the first graphic novel published in Egypt and refers to events of a political and social nature. The police confiscated the novel for being "harmful to public manners" because of its use of colloquial language in describing the events.

HRinfo criticised the illegal action of entering and searching the publishing house without an official order from the Prosecutor's Office. The network also condemned the seizure of the novel, terming it a severe violation of freedom of expression.

According to HRinfo, the Ministry of the Interior recently confiscated a book entitled, "To avoid humiliation" by Omar Afifi, a former police officer. In the book, Afifi presents a simplified version of citizens' rights and sarcastically outlines what they must do to avoid being mistreated by the police.

HRinfo expressed concern over the confiscation of books and novels by the ministry and the discipline police, saying that recent actions point to "who is controlling the field of writing and the way of thinking."

BACKGROUND:
Al Sharkawi, the director of Malameh publishing house, is currently under arrest in connection with a strike held on 6 April. He was previously detained in 2006 and tortured while in detention. Even though the general prosecution recorded the abuse, the officers involved were never punished.

For further information on the 2006 detention of Al Sharkawi (Al-Sharqawi), see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/75101

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