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icymist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-08-10 10:27 AM
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Egyptian Christians file complaint over "insulting" novel
An Egyptian author who last year won the Arabic equivalent of the Man Booker prize could be facing a five-year jail term after he was accused of insulting Christianity in his prize-winning novel.

Youssef Ziedan's Azazeel (Beelzebub) is set in fifth-century Egypt, Alexandria and northern Syria, and looks at the turbulent period following the Roman Empire's adoption of Christianity and the internal doctrinal conflicts that arose between Church elders, as well as the clash between new believers and receding "paganism". Purporting to be the autobiography of an Egyptian-born monk and lover Hypa, who witnesses disputes in Alexandria as the city adopts Christianity, it is a bestseller in Egypt and last year won the $60,000 (40,000) International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which is run in association with the Man Booker prize foundation.

Azazeel has provoked controversy in Egypt ever since its publication. The Coptic church denounced it as offensive for its violent portrait of Coptic church father St Cyril, and one critic said it "tries to Islamise Christian beliefs and takes the side of heretics". Now a group of Egyptian and international Coptic organisations have filed a complaint with the country's public prosecutor against Ziedan, a philosophy professor, accusing him of insulting Christianity. If he is found guilty, he faces up to five years' imprisonment.

More at The Guardian
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