This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Egypt’s National Center for Translation has reportedly pulled a translation of Egypte de Tahrir: L’anatomie d’une révolution from shelves and stopped its sale. This came after a TV presenter accused the government body of publishing books that “attack the army”:
The offending sentence, according ot Ahram Online, came from the book’s preface and “referred to the clashes between the army and some activists in February 2011.”
This follows a string of other issues with access to books, including a book-burning in an Egyptian school this past spring; customs agents’ seizure of The Walls of Freedom in Februrary 2015; the burning of thirty-six books at a Hurghada public library in August of 2014; the confiscation of two philosophical works and a novel in September 2014.
Indeed, a recent press release notes that the book Walls of Freedom remains confiscated in Egypt, and that, “The Public Prosecutor in Alexandria refuses to follow the rule of law and to adhere to the decisions made by the competent authorities.”
The latest challenged book — Egypte de Tahrir — was authored by French journalists Claude Guibal and Tangi Salaün and covers the eighteen-day uprising of January and February 2011. It was published that year by SEUIL in France. According to Ahram Online, translator Assem Abdraboh Hussein signed a contract with the National Center for Translation in 2012 to translate the book into Arabic.
It was published in 2014.
Then, Ahram Online reports, it came to sudden fame last week:
Last week, Al-Bawaba News website wrote a scathing piece on the book, saying that the ministry of culture and the NCT are publishing books that insult the army. TV presenter Ahmed Moussa carried the story from there, attacking the NCT on his TV programme, accusing it of publishing books that attack the army, pointing to the line from the translator’s preface which prompted wide reactions from the ministry.
The translator suggested that a quote on the jacket from Alaa al-Aswany was the reason for the furor. He told Ahram Online:
‘Neither the book nor the jacket, the latter written by Al-Aswany, attacked the state institutions. The book tackles the revolution and the first 18 days after Mubarak stepped down. It acknowledges the role of the army in protecting the people from police brutality. It did not attack the army. Al-Aswany also did not write a foreword, just a few lines on the jacket of the book, where he praised the work of the two French authors and the efforts of the translator,’ Abdraboh explained.
In the meantime, copies of the book likely sit somewhere in a warehouse.
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