A heated argument broke out at the Egyptian parliament’s Culture, Media and Antiquities committee meeting on Sunday following an early day motion submitted by House of Representatives member Dalia Youssef regarding graphic content reportedly found in several children’s books on the market.
These stories feature pornography and promote violence, Youssef said, bringing in three examples from the Green Library series published by the state-owned Dar al-Maaref.
Of these stories, “Khatem al-Sultan” (The Sultan’s Ring) features scenes of graphic violence such as the beheading of a driver, the book “al-Rafeek al-Maghoul” (The Anonymous Comrade) features a part where corpses are unearthed and fed to dogs, while another story contained explicit pornographic text.
“The government should exercise more control,” Youssef stressed.
“Our aim is to protect our children.”
Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) head Rady Abdel-Moaty said that his agency intervened once it was informed about children’s stories with graphic content. However, reviewing literary work is not the CPA’s job, he said.
“National pressure led us to form a committee which reviewed the markets according to Article 13 of the Consumer Protection Law,” he added.
The article discusses prohibiting the circulation of products that incite discrimination, violence or pornography.
According to parliament member Galal Awara, the Supreme Media Council has the power to control books circulating on the market in accordance with Article Four of the Law on the Supreme Media Council.
Awara called on the council to submit a report on its accomplishments in this regard and how it handled the issue.
The Secretary General of the Supreme Media Council, Essam Farag, denied the council’s responsibility for censoring printed and published books. No text in the executive regulations grants the council the authority to control printed publications in Egypt, he explained.
Egyptian Publishers Association head Saeed Abdu defended the Green Library series by saying that the copies which feature graphic content were not present in the original edition.
Youssef confirmed her examples were authentic editions with a receipt of purchase from Dar al-Maaref.
“Do you sell counterfeit copies at Dar al-Maarif outlets?” she told Abdu.
Parliament member Jalila Othman also slammed Abdu’s response, saying “When you are responsible for corrupting an entire generation, you must, if proven involved, submit your resignation.”
Abdu said that a committee headed by Yacoub al-Sharouni reviews the content of the stories before they are published. He added that the series is doing successfully and has been exported out to other Arab countries – even being adopted within the curriculum for primary school students in the United Arab Emirates.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm