Egypt author Ahmed Naji jailed over explicit novel

image copyrightAP
image captionNaji, pictured looking down, can appeal

An Egyptian court has sentenced an author to two years in jail after sexually explicit extracts from his novel were published in state media.

The case was filed by a private citizen who complained that the passage caused him distress and heart palpitations.

The author, Ahmed Naji, was initially acquitted but prosecutors appealed, leading to this sentence.

High-profile Egyptian writers defended Naji in court, saying the ruling was an attack on free speech.

A prominent columnist expressed outrage over the case on Sunday, accusing President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of running a state no different from the Islamist rule of the man he toppled as leader, Mohammed Morsi.

"Your state and its agencies, just like those of your predecessor, hate intellectuals, thought and creativity and only like hypocrites, flatterers and composers of poems of support and flattery," Ibrahim Eissa wrote in the al-Maqal daily.

President Morsi was ousted in 2013 amid mass street protests and accusations he was concentrating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood party.

The chapter from Naji's novel The Use of Life appeared in the state-run literary review Akhbar al-Adab.

The newspaper's editor was ordered to pay a fine. Naji can appeal.