AMERICAN PUBLISHERS STAND WITH PROMINENT
EGYPTIAN PUBLISHER ATTACKED BY MILITARY GOVERNMENT
Thursday, 22 December 2011 | Andi Sporkin
Washington, DC; December 22, 2011 — The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and its International Freedom to Publish Committee (IFTPC) stand in solidarity with Mohamed Hashem, one of Egypt’s most respected publishers and a global advocate on behalf of freedom of expression, who is currently being targeted by that nation’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
At a press conference on December 19, General Adel Emara, a member of SCAF, denounced Hashem and accused him of “sabotage” for providing helmets and blankets to demonstrators at Tahrir Square. Immediately after those charges, dozens of Egyptian nationals including authors, publishers, a former Minister of Culture and others signed a statement rejecting the accusations. Hashem himself stated publicly that he would not stop aiding the demonstrators.
“The nearly 300 American publishing houses who are members of AAP support our courageous and honored colleague Mohamed Hashem,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP. “We join with the International Publishers Association in calling on the transitional government of Egypt to honor its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the values embodied in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. These include the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right of association and peaceable assembly and the right to support others exercising these rights.”
Hal Fessenden, Chairman of the AAP International Freedom to Publish Committee, noted that Hashem is a past recipient of the US publishing association’s “IFTPC Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award.” “At the time that we gave Mohamed this award, I remarked that we applauded his bravery and fortitude,” Fessenden added. “We continue to do so and honor his commitment to creating a more open, democratic society in his country.” Fessenden is Vice President, Executive Director of Foreign Rights, Penguin Group USA.
Hashem is owner and managing director of Dar Merit, an independent publishing house he established in Cairo in 1998. Since then, Hashem has been recognized for publishing works, particularly Arabic literature, embodying principles of free thought and free expression in the face of threatened censorship and threats to his safety. He is also the author of many novellas and short stories.
About AAP and the IFTPC
The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association for the US publishing industry, with membership that spans producers of commercial, educational, professional and scholarly content in all formats.
AAP is active in First Amendment issues including the Freedom to Read with legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels. It has participated as plaintiff or friend-of-the-court in free speech cases for more than four decades and produces educational programs with other anti-censorship organizations for librarians, booksellers and authors. The AAP Freedom to Read Committee serves as the publishing industry’s watchdog on a wide-ranging slate of free speech-related issues. AAP is a founding sponsor of the US Banned Books Week, with the goal of mobilizing public support for the continued availability of the widest possible variety of books and reading materials, including those that put forth controversial or unpopular views.
The International Freedom to Publish Committee was founded in 1975 by AAP as one of the first groups in the world to specifically defend and broaden the freedom of the written word and to protect and promote the rights of book publishers and authors around the world. Among its work, IFTPC monitors and publicizes free-expression issues around the world, sends fact-finding missions to countries where free expression is under siege, lobbies in the US and internationally on behalf of persecuted book publishers and offers moral support and practical assistance to threatened publishers abroad.