A usual Egyptian story: Storming a library selling books, because it sells books

A subheading title: The President puts “culture” as one of his second term priorities

Tuesday 3 July

It is 2 PM. The weather is very hot. Three officials were setting in the headquarters of the “Arab Network for Research and Publishing” at Abdel-Khaleq Tharwat Street.

Suddenly, a group of 16 people broke into the library. They said they are affiliated to the “General Administration of Copyrights Investigations”, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and…the National Security!

I understand the “literary works and copy rights investigations”, but why the “National Security Agency”?!

“Who is the owner of this bookstore? What are you doing here? Who is your director? Where is the book “The Revolution from Tahrir Square to Sidi Bouzid” of Nawaf Al – Qadimi?!”, the security force asked.

Therefore it has to do with certain books and topics.

However, since the National Security is here, let’s check the rest of the books.

After four hours searching and inspecting, they seized a number of books, including:

  • “Safasef Al-Omoor”, meaning the most trivial of matters, by Belal Fadl
  • “In response to Wahhabism” by Hammadi al-Radaisi and Asma Noireh; in addition to other books.

They seized the books and made a communiqué, and hence, there must be an accused. There were only three employees working in the library at that time; (a girl named A- and she is in charge of the library- and two other young men, the first one is called A.H and the second one is named Al-Baraa Hassan Abdel-Hamid).

“We are not going to arrest a girl. A.H is a married man, so let’s take the third one; he is single and writes poetry”!!

They arrested Al-Baraa Hassan and took him to “Qasr al-Nil” police station.

Al-Baraa managed to send a quick message to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). The message read “This is Baraa. I am arrested and detained at Qasr al-Nil police station”.

We immediately went there.

*****

Al-Baraa Hassan is being held inside the police station’s custody under the responsibility of “literary works and copy rights investigations”, and a communiqué has been filed against him. He might be appearing before the Qasr Al-Nil Prosecution (night shift), but we are still awaiting decision of the chief prosecutor whom we are contacting.

We were allowed to freely check the communiqué, and then we went to reassure Al-Baraa. We also called his family to reassure them.

This was a good indicator; however, the following days weren’t that good.

We brought him some food, before we were informed that he will appear before the prosecution next day morning.

Wednesday 4 July

In the early morning, we headed to Qasr al-Nil Prosecution awaiting his arrival from the police station to appear before the prosecution. But in the meantime, Al-Baraa had arrived at the Abdeen Prosecution’s headquarters in the Abdeen Court. The security guards were holding him at the court’s detention room. We waited until the prosecutor called him for interrogation.

This is the first time Al-Baraa entered a court or spent his night in a police station. Al-Baraa is merely a poet who is selling books. So it is not strange to see him miserable and in a very dreadful psychological state that even merciless people would take pity on.

We were able to see him in the jail and bring him water and food, alongside an inhaler that would help him breathe well.

The jail was overcrowded and it is too hot in July. It was really hard to bear.

The investigation started at around 3 PM.

The Public Prosecution leveled against him a number of charges:

  1. Possessing publications and editorials that include incitement to change the principles of the Constitution and the basic rules of the social authority; in case it was ready for being circulated and accessed by others.
  2. Selling literary/ artistic works (books) without the permission of the author.
  3. Selling literary/ artistic works (books) without obtaining a license from the competent minister in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 82 of 2002 on the Protection Intellectual Property (IP) Rights.

And this is in the communiqué No. 8703 of 2018 Qasr Al-Nil Misdemeanors, dated on 3/7/2018.

We were ready to submit all the papers that prove the integrity of the library’s legal status; this is not the first time to storm a bookstore that sells books on a charge of selling books.

We submitted the documents to the prosecution and pleaded the case as much as we could.

Al-Baraa’s legal position is rightful; he didn’t violate the law or made any infraction. However, the Public Prosecution ordered him to appear tomorrow awaiting the investigations of the National Security.

Again and always the National Security!!

To be honest, the guards in charge of bringing Al-Baraa to Qasr al-Nil Prosecution were treating him well. Those people differ from those of the National Security.

Thursday 5 July

We had been at the Qasr AL-Nil Prosecution since early morning awaiting the investigations’ results.

The investigation arrived at around 2 PM. It says that Al-Baraa is merely an employee. He was then released ensuring his place of residence.

We tried to know from the Deputy District Attorney what the investigation came up with, and whether there is an arrest warrant issued against the bookstore’s owner, Nawaf al-Qadmi or the Egyptian co-owner Mohammed Said Marzouq. But he replied “Your client is free now, and the rest is none of your business”.

In Egypt, defendants are not actually free upon a release order issued by the prosecution, but rather, they are free when they are really free (in reality). They won’t be released unless after the approval of the National Security Agency.

Question: What about the Prosecution’s release order?

Answer: Shame on you. How can you ask such a question? You are in Egypt.

The Prosecution issued the release order for Al-Baraa at around 5 PM.

The National Security’s approval on the release order was made nearly10 hours later, on Friday dawn, the 6th of July.

Honestly speaking, the National Security’s decision to release Al-Baraa was implemented only some minutes later!!!

It is not the prosecution’s decision which we waited for, for about 10 hours.

It’s not only people who have superiority. Books have superiority too.

Yes, Al-Baraa returned to his home, but the books didn’t return to the library!

Nearly 500 books were seized, most important of which are previously mentioned above; books about the revolution, the “Wahhabism” or fundamentalism, as well as books by Belal Fadl!!

It is true that they was printed out in a legal way, and are not banned books, but they involve detestable topics and are written by detestable writers, such as Belal Fadl.

And what is hateful for the regime should be forbidden for the reader.

Conclusion

This is exactly what happened with “Al-Balad”, “Alef”, “Townhouse”, and “Al-Karama” libraries. The same thing also happens with newspapers and websites. They are all book stores and publishing houses that provide knowledge and culture, and this is something detestable!! Actions say so, but words don’t.

See below:

A news report published by “Youm 7” website a month ago, on the 2nd of June 2018:

“After Al-Sisi sets “cultural issues” as one of his second term’s priorities…Gaber Asfour:  I pay tribute to Sisi for this move.. Farouk Hosni: “He put his hand on the glory of the state.. Helmi Namnam: We will gain the fruit of caring about our identity.. Sikina Fouad: It is time to care for the humanitarian aspect.”

This is a true piece of news. These words are quoted from the news report’s headlines. You can search on Google.