On December 11th, 2015, The Guardian released an article discussing how Egypt had decided to shut down one of Alaa-al Aswany’s public seminars. Aswany first burst into the world of literature in 2002 with his second novel, The Yacoubian Building. Not only was it a bestseller in Arabic, but the English translation and movie were incredibly popular as well. Because of this, he is able to maintain a high-profile through his newspaper columns, novels, and public speaking endeavours. He is considered a controversial speaking because he creates debate and showcases his viewpoints on certain political aspects of Egypt.
|Alaa Al Aswany|
The cancellation of Aswany’s talk still accentuates the point that Sisi’s tolerance for any type of criticism or non traditionalist ideas are dwindling. In the past few years, numerous journalists and activists have been jailed. It has affected writers as well. For example, Ahmed Naji went to trial in November of 2015 due to a chapter within his novel The Use of Life, which was accused of “offending public morals.” In February of 2016, he has given a harsh two-year prison sentence for “violating public modesty.” This is just one of many examples of authors being restricted and punished in regards to their works.
Hence, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the cancellation of Aswany’s seminar, saying that “he (Aswany) is being subjected to smear campaigns.” In 2015, Aswany released two books in English translation: The Automobile Club and Democracy Is the Answer. His loyal Egyptian fans are hoping that his second book can inspire a change in Egyptian politics and society and allow them to regain their freedom of expression. Much to their dismay, that change is yet to be seen.
Qualey, Marcia Lynx. "Egypt Shuts down Novelist Alaa Al-Aswany's Public Event and Media Work." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.