By Mohammed Abdel Kawy
On 25 January 2015, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued an incredible decree to delegate the Prime Minister to supervise censoring publications on religion, sex, or politics. This is irrespective of the time he spends on old laws that are no longer applied since the ‘30s because they simply contradict with all the laws in the current constitution, which ensure freedom of expression and opinion, in a step with intentions unknown to all.
Regardless of all of this, I do not know whether the time that he issued this decree was random or intentional. Such timing for the decree was days before the opening of the 46th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, the biggest cultural event in the region, awaited by literature lovers and makers and in light of intellectual movement. No one expects any restrictions on what is said or discussed anymore; so can you imagine the confusion that followed such a decree after thousands of book copies were already printed and ready for selling.
We now have books that were confiscated and their contracts have been terminated by the publishing houses. Bookstores now also decline to sell a book just because it discusses a certain matter, or has a cover of, for example, a naked statue from the Renaissance era. Young authors were faced by cruel injustice when they saw the reality of cultural production in Egypt, which was only another image of capitalism hidden within the cloak of power.
It is sad and shameful that a terrible decree would be taken into consideration without anyone protesting or asking why, especially since publishing houses as well as bookstores took it more seriously than those who issued it.
Football games and Ramadan series may be entertaining, but they certainly do not help build a people’s culture.