Egypt/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

There are ongoing debates amongst the cultural elites and human rights activists about the condition of freedom of thought, expression and creativity in Egypt amid the large number of confiscation and closure cases, such as:

Ibdaa magazine

On 7 Apr. 2009, the Administrative court issued its verdict on case 21571 of 61 revoking the license of Ibdaa magazine published by the General Egyptian Book Organization. This case lawsuit was filed by an attorney against Ahmad Abdel Mutti Hegazi editor-in-chief of the magazine and the legal representative of the GEBO, Minister of Culture, Chairman of Shura Council and Sheikh of Al Azhar to demand the cancellation of the negative decision to halt the revocation of Ibdaa Magazine license.

The plaintiff said in his case memorandum that the said magazine published a poem entitled "Layla Murad balcony" by poet Hilmi Salem which contains two lines that insult God (as they pretend), which requires revoking the magazine's license to respect the feelings of Muslims and prevent the strife provoked this magazine.

The President and the Marshal

On 7 Apr. 2009, the Administrative court began examining case 3022 of 62 filed by film director Khaled Youssef and film producer Mamdouh Al-Laithi against the ministers of Culture Defense challenging their negative decision to halt the issuance of the license to shoot their picture the President and the Marshal. The plaintiffs based their case on the fact that the challenged decision violates article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also violates article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Deliberations of the case continued until the Administrative Curt decided to refer the case to the State Commissions Agency in order to draw up a report concerning the legal judgment on the issue. This report however has not been issued till present date[1].

Banning Al Manar Satellite Channel

On 26 May 2006, attorney Samir Sabri filed suit 34834 against the legal representative of the Egyptian Satellite Company, Nile Sat and Minister of Information. The plaintiff requested the suspension and cancellation of the negative decision of the challenged parties to resume the transmission of the Lebanese Satellite Channel Al Manar. The plaintiff based his case on the fact the Shiite channel that speaks on behalf of Hezbollah started recently to broadcast incorrect news about Egypt being an instrument in the hand of America and that it sponsors the Jewish interests, which constitutes a grave insult of the government, president and people of Egypt, causing trouble in neighboring countries and stirs strife between the various components of the Egyptian people. The plaintiff also sated that according to the code of ethics, international treaties and satellite broadcasting rules all channels transmitting on Nile Sat are prohibited from causing trouble in insulting neighboring countries. The persons subject to this challenge should have taken a positive stand and halt the satellite transmission of this channel given its behavior but instead they took a positive stand, thus the plaintiff is entitled to challenge this decision. This case is still being deliberated in court[2].

The daily newspapers in the country are filled with censorship news in cinema, theatre and TV, not to mention the law suits filed against actors, directors, writers and journalists.


[1] Memorandum 3022 of 62, Administrative Court, unpublished – Nasser Amin, Director of Arab Center for the Independence of Judiciary and Legal Profession.

[2] A report about freedom of thought, expression and creativity in Egypt (Jan.-Jun. 2009), published by the Freedom of Thought and Expression Foundation

Chapter published: 01-04-2016