ahmed naji using life egypt cairo freedom speech expression writer prison

Join us on Twitter to defend Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji

To defend Ahmed Naji’s freedom of expression, we will be discussing his writing in the most public way possible: online.

May 5, 2016

Scottish PEN is hosting its first ever Twitter book club next Thursday (12th May) between 7-8pm. Join us online to discuss an extract from The Guide for Using Life, a novel written by imprisoned writer Ahmed Naji.

We will be releasing six questions about the book that we would like you to discuss. To take part, simply tweet your answer and tag @ScottishPEN in your response. We will retweet our favourite answers on our page.

This book club is part of an International Day of Readings in protest at Naji’s imprisonment. In 2014 Naji’s novel Using Life was serialised in the literary magazine Akhbar al-Adab. One reader, Hani Salah Tawfiq, claimed that upon reading chapter 6 he became seriously ill. He stated that the sexual content and references to drugs made his blood pressure plummet, and lodged a complaint about the piece’s ‘obscene’ content. Although his case was initially dropped, Naji has now been sentenced to two years in prison for ‘violating public modesty’. This is in spite of the novel already having been approved by Egyptian authorities, and Egypt’s constitution specifying that you cannot prosecute artists.

Naji’s case is one example of the increasingly censored climate in Egypt, where authorities are launching more and more attacks on writers and their imagination. You can read PEN International’s full statement on the case here.

To defend Naji’s freedom of expression, we will be discussing chapter 6 in the most public way possible: online. 

You can read the extract in English here and in Arabic here. We will also be releasing information about the novel on our social media channels throughout the week.

Join us in defending the imagination of Egyptian writers. 


TAGS: Ahmed Naji Egypt Twitter Twitter book club