Idris Ali Book Confiscated at Cairo Book Fair

I missed this while at the Cairo International Book Fair on Friday: Egyptian security confiscated Idris Ali’s new novel, The Leader is Cutting His Hair.

The book is reportedly critical of the Libyan regime (and Ghaddafi’s hair?). Ali, who’s Egyptian, lived in the neighboring North African nation from 1976-1980.

All copies of the book were reportedly seized; it was unclear what action would be taken against the publisher, Wa’ad.
But the AFP reported that police arrested the book’s publisher, Gumeili Ahmed Shehata, and took him to a nearby station.

“They accused him of insulting Ghaddafi and said his book contained immoral phrases,” Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told the news organization.

Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression lawyer Ahmed Ezzat suggested to Daily News Egypt that the book’s seizure might constitute an act of “flattery” to please Libya.

Idris Ali is also the author of Dongola and Poor, available in English from AUC Press. I am lukewarm about Poor, but the government has certainly whet my appetite for The Leader is Cutting His Hair.

Meanwhile, Libya is apparently banning all of YouTube.


  1. I’m interested in finding out whether Idris Ali’s novel The Leader is Cutting His Hair is available in English. If not, Index on Censorship would be interested in getting a copy in Arabic, with a view to possibly publishing it or an extract. Can you help? I have contacted the publisher of some of Idris Ali’s other titles (in English) but they aren’t aware of the book so I think I’m right in assuming it’s unavailable. Look forward to hearing from you and much appreciate any suggestions you may have! Natasha Schmidt, Assistant Editor

Comments are closed.