Thursday, July 22, 2010

LA Times Article on Egypt

The LA Times has jumped on the bandwagon a bit late concerning the 1001 Nights ban in Egypt. 

Here's the link (excerpts below):

"Egyptian group wants to censor Arabic classic

Lawyers Without Shackles seeks to delete salacious passages from contemporary literature and cherished classics. Its campaign against 'The Arabian Nights' is part of a growing religious conservatism.

July 11, 2010 - By Amro Hassan and Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times"

For me this title smacks of the media frenzy regarding any ban in the Middle East that I mentioned in previous posts about this issue, ie:  "part of a growing religious conservatism."  For a more realistic portrayal of Egypt in the 21st century see the most recent issue of the Economist (most of the section is currently online for free here: which has a special section on Egypt and that country's future, based largely on the country's economic policies, foreign relations and governmental problems vs. what that magazine suggests is essentially a non-threat in the bigger picture, the religious Islamic extremists.

In any event, here is more from the LA Times article which continues its rhetoric:

"Reporting from Cairo — Let the ancient temptress beware, censors with sharp pens beckon.

Arab writers and poets through the centuries have spiced their tales with explicit language and carnal desire. Even during the height of the Islamic Empire, when Sharia law dictated virtue across the Middle East, storytellers revealed a fondness for the unholy.

But nowadays fundamentalist Muslims are campaigning to "purify" one of the great works of Arabic literature, the "One Thousand and One Nights."

"The book contains profanities that cannot be acceptable in Egyptian society," said lawyer Ayman Abdel-Hakim, venting his disgust at one of the "Nights" poems in which a woman challenges Muslim men to fulfill her insatiable sexual urges. "We understand that this kind of literature is acceptable in the West, but here we have a different culture and different religion."


"Such tactics are common in Saudi Arabia, where last year a scholar issued death fatwas against racy-TV programmers. But they are unsettling in Egypt, traditionally more tolerant.

Egypt's prosecutor general, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud, recently dismissed a complaint brought to him by Lawyers Without Shackles against a publishing house affiliated with the Ministry of Culture. The group sought to ban a new edition of "The Arabian Nights" or excise "obscene" passages so as not to incite "vice and sin" among readers. The prosecutor held that the tales have been published in Egypt for centuries without any danger to public morality."


"O my sister, recite to us some new story, delightsome and delectable, wherewith to while away the waking hours of our latter night.”....

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