CAIRO: The State Council Administrative Court on Tuesday revoked the license of Ibdaa (Creativity) monthly magazine for publishing a poem it deemed “blasphemous.
The court found the magazine guilty of publishing a poem that included expressions that insulted God.
Ibdaa was published by the General Egyptian Book Organization, which works under the authority of the Ministry of Culture.
In 2007, the magazine ran the poem titled “On the balcony of Leila Murad, authored by Egyptian poet Helmy Salem.
Two days after the poem ran, the magazine’s copies were seized from newsstands and the issue was banned from distribution outside Egypt.
While the court acknowledged press freedom in conveying a message to educate readers, it maintained that it bears certain responsibilities towards the community.
In its ruling, the court also called on the media to “fear God and serve their country and the future of its children, “especially that there is a universal trend of undervaluing morals and religious beliefs.
Gamal Eid, chairman of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), opposed the verdict, calling it “illegal and unconstitutional.
Eid said that the verdict violates freedom of expression.
In 2006, the law pertaining to freedom of expression underwent changes that reduced the punishment from jail sentences to financial fines in libel cases, Eid said.
Makram Mohamed Ahmed, chairman of the Journalists’ Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt that since the magazine is under the culture ministry’s authority, there is nothing the syndicate can do for it.
Ahmed Salah, media spokesperson at the Ministry of Culture, told Daily News Egypt that the ministry is currently preparing an official statement in reaction to this verdict.
While none of the magazine’s reporters contacted the ministry, Salah assured that the ministry will interfere and stand against the closure of the magazine.
On the other hand, the Higher Press Council was unaware of the verdict, its secretary general, Galal Dowidar, said.
Renowned Egyptian poet Ahmed Abdel Moaty Hegazy is Ibdaa’s chief editor. The culture magazine has been running for over 10 years.
Lawyer Samir Sabry was the one who filed the lawsuit against the magazine.