Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: “The international publishing community stands with Khaled Lutfi. We must support Lutfi’s fellow publishers in Egypt so that his imprisonment does not lead to fear and self-censorship in a country of such rich literary heritage.”
José Borghino, IPA Secretary General added: “IPA calls on President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to grant Khaled Lutfi a presidential pardon.”
On February 4, Khalid Lutfi, founder of Cairo’s Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of divulging military secrets and spreading rumors for having distributed an Arabic translation of the book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph. The case started when Tanmia’s founder signed an agreement with Arab Scientific Publishers to publish an Egyptian edition of the book.
Tanmia Bookshop opened in 2011 and later spawned a highly respected publishing house. The publishing house brought out a number of acclaimed authors in translation. Tanmia also published original works in Arabic, including a children’s book version of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem Think of Others, which won an Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature.
The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee’s decision to award the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire to Khaled Lutfi honours his bravery in publishing despite the risks involved.
The presentation of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire will take place on 21 June 2019 Seoul International Book Fair.
About the IPA Prix Voltaire
The IPA Prix Voltaire is unique in honouring the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assume the same risks as the writers themselves.
Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of publisher is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.
The IPA Prix Voltaire comes with a Swiss Franc 10,000 prize in part made possible by contributions from publishing houses that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.
The International Publishers Association
The IPA is the world’s largest federation of publishers associations. Established in 1896, it is an industry body with a human rights mandate, whose mission is to promote and protect publishing and raise awareness of publishing as a force for economic, cultural and social development. Working in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other supranational bodies, the IPA champions the interests of book and journal publishing at national and supranational level. Internationally, the IPA actively opposes censorship and promotes copyright, freedom to publish, and literacy.