A respected literature journal, Ibdaa (or Creativity) has been banned by an Egyptian court for publishing blasphemous poem by poet Helmi Salem that compared God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows. It is only the latest crackdown on poets who have used the Koran or references to God in artistic ways.
The poem titled “On the Balcony of Leila Murad” says in part: “God is not a policeman, who catches criminals from the back of their neck. He is a villager who feeds the ducks and feels the cow’s udders and squeezes them with his fingers and yells: ‘Plenty of milk.'” The poem then goes on to compare God to a traffic cop.
The court deemed the reference as insulting to God. It was the words of Judge Mohammed Attiya and not Helmi Salem that proved the most offensive and disturbing in the case. The judge lectured the publisher that a “freedom should be responsible in serving society and should not be misused.” If a freedom is defined and tolerated only to the degree that it is viewed as serving society, it is not much of a freedom. Citizens are given liberties only at the whim and discretion of petty little tyrants like Judge Attiya.
Artists and authors are facing greater pressures in Egypt due to the rise of conservative Islamic groups which use anti-blasphemy laws to censor speech.
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