CAIRO: Novelist Sonallah Ibrahim and graphic artist Ahmed El-Labbad appeared as expert witnesses Saturday in the case of the confiscated graphic novel “Metro.
Ibrahim and El-Labbad were asked by the court whether they considered the novel’s depiction of two scenes of a sexual nature in violation of public morals.
Both witnesses said that the two scenes in question are an integral part of the story and do not infringe public morals.
El-Labbad, artistic director of children’s magazine Aladdin, presented a brief history of the graphic novel which he said is now considered the “9th art internationally, before being questioned by the judge about the difference in meaning between “comic and “graphic novel.
El-Labbad described Magdy L. Shafee s illustrations as “purely artistic drawings.
When asked whether a work should be judged by its overall aim or on the basis of individual words contained in it, Ibrahim said that the most important thing is its overall aim.
Ibrahim concluded his evidence by telling the court that literature and creativity are “under siege.
Ibrahim was himself imprisoned in the 1960s for his political opinions.
“In 1965 my first novel, ‘The Smell of It’, was censored for being against general morals. After 20 years, I was able to publish the complete text in Cairo, Casablanca and Khartoum, Ibrahim told Daily News Egypt.
“As a writer I support freedom of art and the right of the writer to express himself freely as long as it is a serious work which could be judged by experts such as writers and artists.
Shafee and publisher Mohamed El-Sharqawy, owner of the Malamih publishing house which released “Metro last year, are being charged under article 178 of the Penal Code. They are accused of “infringing public morals .
Lawyer Hamdy El-Assiouty, a member of the defense team, requested a copy of the police questioning conducted with El-Sharqawy. He told Daily News Egypt after the hearing that the questioning will prove that the case against the publisher, who has a history of political activism, is “politically motivated .
“I m certain that this case is designed to frame Mohamed El-Sharqawy because at the start of questioning the officer referred to politics before mentioning violation of public morals, El-Assiouty said.
The hearing was adjourned until May 23, 2009, when a member of the vice squad which seized copies of “Metro in April 2008, will give evidence.
According to a statement issued by the Hisham Mubarak Law Center on Saturday, the officer in question was fined LE 50 for failing to appear in court during Saturday s session.
A separate court case raised against the seizure order issued against “Metro continues on May 12 2009.