CAIRO: Police yesterday raided an independent publishing house and seized copies of a graphic novel on charges that it offends public morals.
Five men wearing civilian clothes arrived at Dar El-Malameh’s offices in Garden City, Cairo on Tuesday at 3.30 pm.
They told Ahmed Samir, Dar El-Malameh’s accountant and the only employee present at the time, that they were the vice squad but produced neither personal identification nor a warrant for the search they conducted.
“They turned the place upside down, Naira El-Sheikh, Dar El-Malameh’s media spokeswoman told Daily News Egypt.
The men seized copies of “Metro, a graphic novel by Magdy El-Shafee and made Samir sign a pledge that he would deliver to them all copies of the book returned to the publishing house by bookstores.
They also took copies of contracts signed between authors and the publishing house.
Dar El-Malameh, which publishes mostly first-time authors in both English and Arabic, is owned by Mohamed El-Sharqawy.
El-Sharqawy is himself currently being held in El-Marg prison, Cairo, after he was detained on the evening of April 7, a day after protests in Cairo and elsewhere were held to coincide with a general strike called for by opposition groups.
Over 60 people, many of them opposition figures and known activists were detained on April 6 in Cairo alone.
El-Sharqawy, who was previously active in the Kefaya opposition movement, was in May 2006 kidnapped, sodomized and tortured by state security officers for eight hours.
El-Sheikh links this event to the Dar El-Malameh raid.
“They’re settling old scores for the media frenzy which happened after El-Sharqawy was detained and tortured in 2006 – El-Sharqawy hasn’t been politically active for a year, she told Daily News Egypt.
“Metro , the graphic novel impounded by the police force, has been on sale in bookstores for over two months.
While it deals with themes such as corruption and contains mild nudity, its author says that the book contains nothing to justify its seizure.
“Apparently someone has claimed that the book is immoral but it’s not that bold.not really offensive.
The men who raided Dar El-Malameh gave verbal instructions to Samir to tell Shafee and others to go to the vice squad’s headquarters in Tahrir Square yesterday.
“I didn’t go because summons such as these must be in writing. I’m going to meet with my lawyer today to discuss legal action to challenge the order for the book’s seizure, Shafee told Daily News Egypt.