“Nobel laureate seeks Islamists” permission to publish,” from The Statesman, with thanks to RG:
CAIRO, Jan. 28. — Egypt’s Nobel Prize winning author, Naguib Mahfouz, is seeking the permission of the country”s highest Islamic authorities to publish one of his most controversial novels, in a move which has staggered friends and colleagues who see it as a capitulation to the power of conservative Islam. Speaking publicly about his decision for the first time, the 94 year-old confirmed that his publisher had sought the approval of Al Azhar university, Sunni Islam’s oldest seat of learning, to finally publish Children of the Alley. The book was banned in Egypt in 1959 when Islamists declared it blasphemous.
“If Al Azhar agrees to publish it, then I want it published,” he told friends and supporters seated around him at a weekly get-together in a bar at the Shepherd Hotel on the banks of the Nile. Mahfouz, whose sophisticated literary works helped make Egypt the intellectual and cultural hub of the Arab world, further dismayed his audience when he confirmed that he had asked Egypt’s powerful Islamic organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, to write a preface to the book. He said he wanted the imprimatur of “the Islamists”.