[JURIST] Egyptian lawyer Nasser Amin on Saturday challenged a law that allows for writers to be jailed for writings that violate Egyptian “morals.” The challenge came during the trial of Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji, who could face a nearly USD $1,300 dollar fine and two years in jail for his work, “The Use of Life,” which includes an explicit sex scene and reference to hashish use. Amin has challenged [AP report] the law based on two articles in the Egyptian constitution that ban this type imprisonment for published materials unless they are defamatory, encourage violence or are discriminatory. The prosecution has insisted that the excerpts from the book be treated as journalism.
The prosecution and imprisonment of journalists by the Egyptian government has garnered widespread criticism from governments and rights groups worldwide. In August Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] approved [JURIST report] a 54-article counter-terrorism law that has been met with significant controversy, as many believe it infringes on the freedom of the press. Many have said that the law defines terrorism too broadly and imposes harsh sentences and fines on violators. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] (HRW) criticized [JURIST report] Egypt’s new counterterrorism law saying it infringes on freedom of the press. HRW opposes the fact that the new law gives prosecutors the power to detain suspects without a court order. Also in August Egyptian police arrested [JURIST report] three people under the law for their role in spreading propaganda related to the Islamic State on Facebook.