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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Egypt closes "blasphemous" magazine

From Al-Arabiya:
An Egyptian court revoked the license of a literary magazine on Tuesday on the grounds that a poem it had published more than two years ago was blasphemous, court sources said.

Ibdaa (Creativity), a small circulation magazine issued by a government-controlled publishing house, lost its license for printing Helmy Salem's poem, "Laila Mourad's balcony" –a reference to a 1940s Egyptian movie icon.

The poem contains references to God, some phrased as questions, likening him for example to a villager force-feeding a duck.

The judge described the poem as "presumptuous drivel" and said a free press should be responsible. The ruling followed a lawsuit raised against the magazine by an individual.
BBC adds:
The court's ruling said: "Freedom of press... should be used responsibly and not touch on the basic foundations of Egyptian society, and family, religion and morals."
Which is the equivalent of saying that the press is free to write whatever it wants, as long as it is about rainbows and unicorns.

AFP indicates who supported the ruling - that bastion of academic freedom, Al Azhar:
The Islamic Al-Azhar University, the government's highest authority on religion, had submitted to the court its opinion that Salem was a heretic and his poem was blasphemous.
Don't invest too much stock in Salem's life.