Al Masry Al Youm TV recently interviewed American University in Cairo Press (AUCP) Associate Director Neil Hewison about how US-Egyptian relations influence the press, the press’s 10-year plan, his thoughts on al-Sisi, and more:
In one of the opening questions, Al Masry Al Youm asked whether it was possible that US-Egyptian relations, in their convergence or divergence, affected the path of publishing at AUCP.
Hewison gave a very skeptical look and said: “We don’t even know, we don’t take any notice of what US government policy might or might not be in relation to Egypt. We operate completely independently of any government.”
As to changes in the Egyptian publishing landscape, Hewison noted that there “are many more small, independent publishing houses starting up in the last few years, I think even many more new ones since the revolution.”
Hewison wasn’t willing to look out 10 years ahead for AUCP, but said that “We’re already in the next five-year plan, which is developing the publication of electronic books. Sometimes as an original book, sometimes where the book is only in e-book form, other times when it’s parallel publishing, both in electronic and paper form.”
On how recent events have influence AUCP:
I don’t yet see any direct difference in our situation, in whatever sense — after the 30th of June, before the 30th of June.
We have not come across the red lines because we haven’t come to a point where we are trying to cross them. We haven’t tested them, in other words. We haven’t tried to do something where we think, Ahh, this book is full of sex and religion and politics, let’s publish it and see what happens. It hasn’t happened because we don’t feel the need to do that. At the same time, as I said, we’re not deliberately standing back from that. We’re not in any sense afraid — what can we publish, what can’t we publish — it’s just that we haven’t reached that point, we haven’t come to it. Other people have tested the red lines in various ways, and sometimes they’ve found that those red lines are still there.
Finally, AMAY asked Hewison, as an observer of Egyptian politics, what he thought about al-Sisi for president?
Hewison said, in part:
I try to think of this issue from Mr. Sisi’s point of view. … if I become president now, the problems facing this country are so difficult, so almost insurmountable, that I could quickly lose popularity if I fail to solve those problems in the time that the Egyptian people expect. So I could lose all my popularity in a very short time, and I could become as hated as anybody else was before me. So, if I was Mr. Sisi, I personally would not want to be president.