Self-censorship: Coptic Representation in Literature

From Al Masry Al Youm:

There is, perhaps, an upside to novelists laboring in relative obscurity.

While a recent Christian-Muslim unity concert in Alexandria was canceled for “security reasons,” and films that deal with sectarian issues must struggle against a censorship board eager to prevent the appearance of disunity, literary works have had comparative freedom.

This is freedom, of course, up to a point: The government still reserves the right to pull books from shelves, as it did with Magdy al-Shafee’s graphic novel Metro. Individual hackers and hesba lawyers have made authors’ lives difficult, and sometimes frightening, for writing about religion. And authors surely have not forgotten that Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck in 1994 for his portrayal of religious figures in Awlad Haretna (Children of Gabalawi).

Arabic literary scholar Rasheed al-Enany has noted that these factors have created an atmosphere of self-censorship on religious topics that’s even more significant, he says, than the threat of imprisonment. Indeed, it’s possible that many Egyptian authors don’t realize the extent to which they censor their writings on religion.

Still, some space to create new works does exist.

Continue reading.


  1. I’m interested to know what a hesba lawyer is (and if there is any translation of the term in English).

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