Egypt writer jailed over sex scenes in state-owned review

Ahmed Naji in a photo from his Facebook page.
Ahmed Naji in a photo from his Facebook page.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

CAIRO (AFP) - An Egyptian court handed a novelist a two-year jail sentence for "gross indecency" on Saturday over the serialisation of one of his works in a state-owned newspaper.

The jail sentence against Ahmed Naji came after prosecutors appealed against his acquittal by a lower court, charging that his sexually explicit writing offended public decency, a judicial official said.

He was sent to the cells after the hearing but has the right of appeal.

The editor of the state-owned literary review which published the chapter of his novel The Guide For Using Life, Tareq al-Taher, was fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (S$1,800).

The prosecution came in response to a complaint from a reader of Akhbar al-Adab, Egypt's most widely read literary review.

Two renowned Egyptian writers - Sonallah Ibrahim and Mohamed Salmawy - testified in his defence at the original trial.

Defence counsel argued that there was nothing in Naji's writings that did not also feature in works that are considered part of the Arab and Islamic canon.

The case comes more than two and a half years after then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew president Mohamed Morsi, accusing him of imposing an Islamist agenda on the country.