Egypt novelist Ahmed Naji released from prison

Author accused of "violating public modesty" leaves Cairo jail early but will face court again in January.

    A court will decide on January 1 to order another trial or send Naji back to prison [File: Yasmin Hosam El Din/AP]
    A court will decide on January 1 to order another trial or send Naji back to prison [File: Yasmin Hosam El Din/AP]

    An Egyptian author walked out of a Cairo police station on Thursday after a court suspended his two-year prison sentence pending review of his appeal on obscenity charges.

    The year-long case of Ahmed Naji, after a magazine published a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel, The Use of Life, has drawn international condemnation and accusations of a crackdown on freedom of expression.

    Prosecutors said Naji "violated public modesty".

    It was seen as part of a larger crackdown on civil rights in Egypt under the rule of army chief-turned-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    Surrounded by his friends, Naji was rushed into a car with tinted windows and made no comments to reporters.

    Writing on Twitter, Ramy Yacoub, deputy director of The Tahrir Institute for the Middle East, said Naji "opted not to be photographed once he left the police station" and he would "drive him home safely".

    OPINION: Yes, Ahmed Naji is a novelist

    Naji was initially acquitted, but prosecutors appealed and a higher court in February sentenced him to two years in prison.

    A court on January 1 will either decide to order another trial or send Naji back to prison.

    Cairo-based literary critic Marcia Lynx Qualey told Al Jazeera: "Naji's imprisonment, like the closure of the Karama libraries, is terrible evidence of the narrowing space for public laughter, creativity, art, reading.

    "As we pass the days until his appeal, we must continue to demand the space for his freedom."

    In November, two Al Karama community libraries in Cairo, founded by human rights activist Gamal Eid, were closed by authorities.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?