To commemorate the six year anniversary of the death of Egypt’s most internationally popular novelist, the Ministry of Culture is discounting the price of all of Naguib Mahfouz’s books by up to 50 percent. The anniversary of the author’s death was last Thursday but a series of events celebrating Mahfouz’s writings run by the ministry will start Monday.
In his 95 years of life, Mahfouz crafted some of Egypt’s most honest reflections through his novels. Mahfouz was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in literature for his novel Children of our Alley in 1988.The novel portrayed the life of an alley’s thug and his three sons, where references are made to the protagonist being Allah and his three sons being prophets Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. It was banned in Egypt until it received the Nobel Prize.
Nevertheless, controversy over novel persisted and Mahfouz was subject of an assassination attempt in 1994 by an extremist who accused him of blasphemy.
Though Mahfouz survived the attack, it outlined the rift between modern art and extremist Islam.
However as Egypt commemorates Mahfouz’s death for the first time under an Islamist president’s rule, prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood have heaped praise on Mahfouz’s work.
Brotherhood leader Essam Al-Erian called upon the “new generation of youth to read Mahfouz’s writings in a new light now that some of his dreams have been achieved,” on his twitter account.
Similar statements were posted on the Freedom and Justice party’s (FJP) Facebook page by another prominent Brotherhood leader Mohamed Al-Beltagi on Friday, denying that the Ministry of Culture overlooking the commemoration of Mahfouz’s death had anything to do with Islamist influence.
“Everybody knows that not a single Islamist is holding any post in the ministry of culture,” Al-Beltagi was quoted to have said on the FJP’s official facebook page.