How Will Ziedan’s ‘Blasphemy’ Play for English-language Audiences?

And the controversy over Azazil continues.

Recently, two prominent Egyptian lawyers—Naguib Gobrail and Mamdouh Ramzy—submitted a complaint to Egypt’s Attorney General, Bikya Masr reports. The complaint accuses novelist Youssef Ziedan of committing “blasphemy” and “abusing of the Christian faith” in his Arabic Booker-winning Azazil.

The complaint was apparently co-signed by: Coptic Organization of the United Kingdom, the Egyptian-American Friendship Organization (I don’t know this organization, and could find only a Facebook group with 16 members), Canadian Egyptian Organization for Human Rights , Youth Organization of the Copts in Australia, the Copts of Austria , the Coptic Dutch Organization, French Coptic Organization, the Organization of Copts in Kuwait, and the al-Kelma Center for Human Rights.

I am not clear on whether Ramzy, Gobrail, and the above organizations want the book banned, or censured, or what results they’re aiming for. I still haven’t read the book, so can’t comment for myself on any blasphemies (if I were even qualified to notice them). But I’m also interested in how this will play out in selling the book to a Western audience.

Surely, if the book were offensive to (some) Muslims, that would be the first words out of a publicist’s mouth. But a book written by a Muslim scholar, and offensive to (some) Christians?

Of course, Atlantic isn’t scheduled to bring out the English translation until next summer, so they have a while to strategize.

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