Author of censored graphic novel condemns interrogation by vice police

Sarah Carr
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Graphic novelist Magdy El-Shafee has condemned his interrogation by police in connection with a complaint about his graphic novel “Metro .

In a statement published on his website, El-Shafee says the complaint against him pertains to several pages of the novel that are alleged to offend public morals.

“We thought that a member of the public had complained, but in fact it’s a member of the vice police who brought the case.

The novel deals with the trysts of two young men whose money-making scheme sucks them into a world of financial and political corruption.

El-Shafee was summoned to the Qasr El-Nil police station on April 20, where he was interrogated from 3:30 pm until his release at 1 am.His publisher Mohamed El-Sharqawy, owner of the Malameh publishing house was interrogated the following day on Monday.

Five men wearing civilian clothes had arrived at Malameh’s offices in Garden City, Cairo on Tuesday April 15 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 then seized all copies of “Metro .

El-Sharqawy was himself released on Saturday April 19 after spending 12 days in detention.

He had been arrested on April 7 – the day after opposition groups called for a general strike – on charges of publishing materials inciting a strike and hatred of the regime.

“During the investigation I was told that a character in the novel bears a resemblance to a well-known businessman, and that some of its themes ‘disturb’ public morals, El-Shafee told Daily News Egypt.

“I said to the prosecutor: Yes, but what is the actual charge?’

“For the first time, I find out that the word ‘democratic’ is impolite. I advise you not to use it in front of a decent lady until we know what it going on El-Shafee jokes in a statement published on his website.

He also questions the motivation behind the complaint brought against his novel.

“The problem is twofold: a member of the vice police is placing himself above society in deciding what is good for us, we’re going back to the age of the Wahabis, he told Daily News Egypt.

“Secondly, there’s no definition for zabteya [crash investigation] in the law.He’s using the process for personal ends, to get promoted, he continued.

“I find it totally shameful to discuss freedom of creativity and expression in police stations in the 21st century, he says in the statement published on his website.

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at
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