World-renowned novelist Alaa al-Aswani detained at Cairo International Airport, and the confiscation of “The Stranger” by Albert Camus

Egypt - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the Egyptian Public Prosecutor should take the necessary measures to put an end to the violations and police practices of the Ministry of Interior against Egyptian citizens at Cairo airport, which amounted to detaining prominent writer and journalist, Dr. Alaa al-Aswani, at Cairo airport yesterday evening for approximately two hours and a half, searching him and confiscating one of his books and the novel “The Strange” by the late French Nobel laureate author “Albert Camus”, in addition to searching his personal laptop and tablet, without a legal justification and with no respect for the law.

al-Aswani was on his way back to Egypt from New York on a Royal Jordanian Airlines’ flight after delivering lectures and receiving honors at three US universities (Princeton University, Dartmouth College and New York University) and opening a creative writing workshop in New York. As soon as the plane landed at Cairo airport from Amman, where it made a layover, he was surprised that he was being detained at the airport and around ten police officers searched him and confiscated the Albert Camus’ novel, which he uses for teaching his students and another book of his.


al-Aswani told ANHRI “The employee took me to be searched, a committee of about ten people opened my bag and thoroughly searched it after all its contents were taken, then they confiscated one of my books which was published in English and they also confiscated The Stranger by Albert Camus which I was teaching to my American students”. I explained to them that Albert Camus died a long time ago and does not pose a threat to Sisi. Then they took the laptop and tablet. I said to them, open them in front of me, but I will never let you take them. Strangely, everyone was apologizing to me and they told me that these were a Pasha’s orders from above.”

It is worth mentioning that the incidents of stopping and travel ban at the airport without legal reasons but with security instructions became almost systematic for critics and opponents, and no longer excludes academics, writers or lawyers, as Dr Mamdouh Hamza and Dr. Hassan Nafaa were previously detained and now they are joined by Alaa al-Aswani yesterday.

ANHRI said “The violations of the Ministry of Interior will not stop unless the Public Prosecutor does his role of addressing violations of the law, but ignoring such incidents increases the phenomenon of impunity, and the lack of confidence in the judicial institution and the rule of law. The true scandal is disrespecting the law and not punishing those who break it, not exposing it, and we are aware that the Public Prosecutor understands this and knows it, but will he take action? “.

ANHRI, as it condemns this blatant violation, it stands in solidarity with Dr. Alaa al-Aswani, and expresses its sorrow that the disregard for law has reached such an extent to impose restrictions on a writer, who only has his pen, and is widely respected and celebrated all over the world, yet the Egyptian regime treats him with hostility and with disregard for his rights.

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