The Egyptian writer and novelist Nawal El Saadawi well known both in the Arab world and internationally is facing a political and religious campaign mounted against her by the authorities of Al-Azhar. Basing themselves on a play written by her entitled “God Resigns at the Summit Meeting” published during the month of January 2007 in Cairo, they are accusing her of apostasy and disrespect for the principles of Islam.
The theatre play is a work of fiction and should be judged by the men and women who read works destined for the theatre and not by religious dignitaries whose areas of concern are totally different. To bring a writer to trial before a court relying on dangerous accusations of this kind is a license for her assassination and can encourage any mad man who might cross her path to kill her.
Accusations such as this which remind us of the era of slavery, and of the Middle Ages, and which hardly correspond to the values which should hold sway in the Twenty First Century are being leveled against a woman of letters, a woman from the medical profession who has given to the Arab world forty five works ranging from novels, plays, short stories, autobiography to scientific and intellectual studies which have served the cause of women’s liberation and that of men and have been translated into thirty languages covering different regions of our globe.
This is not the first time that Nawal El Saadawi has had to face campaigns of this kind. A case was raised against her attempting to separate her forcibly from her husband. The accusation here also was that of apostasy and her name figured for many years on a death list.
We the signatories of this petition demand that this repressive campaign come to an end immediately. We call upon all the men and women of conscience all over the world, in the Arab countries and in Egypt to take the action they see fit in order to defend freedom of thought and creativity. We call upon all the associations and organizations of civil society, the unions of workers, on journalists, on all free women and men in the different countries, on the associations and organizations of women and on democratic progressive political parties to join us in our efforts to defend freedom.
To support our action you can:
- Print this petition and sign it and distribute it as widely as possible [click here for print edition];
- send messages of protest to the Egyptian embassies in your country, to Sheikh Al Azhar, to the President of the Republic, the President of the Peoples Assembly, and the Prosecutor General in Egypt [addresses found here].
The petition was originally posted at Nawal El Saadawi’s Web site on 15 March 2007.