The Metro

Magdy El Shafee‘s The Metro, a just recently in Egypt published graphic novel was confiscated by the authorities last week a few months after its publication.

Translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies: Translator’s Note
Magdy El Shafee’s Metro, the first adult Arabic graphic novel, is set in a chaotic modern Cairo pulsing with financial and social insecurity. Shihab, a young software designer who has been forced into debt by corrupt officials, decides to get out of his dilemma by taking “direct action”: robbing a bank, with the help of Mustafa, his loyal but reluctant sidekick. He finds himself caught in a vortex of financial and political corruption; the only relief comes from Dina, an idealistic journalist. In this extract Shihab plans and executes the robbery with surprising results. Note that panels should be read from right to left..

Weekly Al Ahram published a longer article on the case and the comic we are obviously going to miss:

Magdy El-Shafie, author and cartoonist of The Metro, widely regarded as the first Egyptian graphic novel, last week received a summons to appear before the state prosecution service following the confiscation of his novel from the publisher, Malameh. Mohammed El-Sharqawy, head of Malameh, also received a summons, this time following 15 days spent in prison as a result of his participation in the 6 April strikes.

According to the state prosecution service, El-Shafie’s graphic novel, his first, contains obscenity and libelous references alleging corruption on the part of prominent Egyptian political figures. The confiscation of the novel has caused some in Egypt’s cultural community to recall previous such incidents, including when the novel A Banquet for Seaweed by Syrian novelist Haydar Haydar was confiscated on similar charges in 2000.

However, while previous cases of the confiscation of books on charges of obscenity or blasphemy were instigated either by representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood sitting in the People’s Assembly, the country’s parliament, or by articles in the newspaper Al-Sha’ab, considered the mouthpiece of the Islamists in Egypt, this time the actions came as a result of a public investigation into the novel following charges of obscenity.

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read some excerpt pages from the comic: The Metro
or go directly to Magdy’s Blog
.. for german readers there is an update on the case at heise.de.

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