The international writers association PEN International will honour on Monday jailed novelist Ahmed Nagi with its “Freedom to write” award, according to official statement issued by PEN.
Nagi’s brother will accept the award on his behalf in New York City.
Nagi, 30, was sentenced to two years in prison in February over charges of publishing “obscene sexual content”. The verdict was issued by the Boulaq Criminal Court.
The court also ordered the editor of Akhbar Al-Adab, Tarek Al-Taher, to pay a fine of EGP 10,000 after a chapter of Nagi’s novel, entitled “The Use of Life”, was published in the literary journal, a subsidiary of state-owned Akhbar Al-Youm. The novel was previously published by Dar El-Tanweer publishing house.
The sentence against Nagi and Al-Taher was condemned and criticised as unconstitutional by many politicians, writers, media figures, associations, and political parties. Yet, the biggest boost for the campaign in defence of Nagi and Al-Taher came when the minister of culture expressed his solidarity and condemned their sentencing.
PEN called for the immediate release of journalist and novelist Nagi and decried the deteriorating situation of freedom of expression in Egypt.
“PEN is deeply concerned by the news that Egyptian novelist Ahmed Nagi was sentenced on 20 February 2016 to two years in prison for ‘violating public modesty’,” the organisation’s statement read.
It called for appeals to be sent to Egyptian authorities to demand for Nagi’s release and all other writers and journalists currently detained in Egypt in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
The London-based association, with over 25,000 members from more than 100 countries, said it has been monitoring many cases of writers and journalists in Egypt who have been jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly particularly in cases related to journalism and human rights.