Clerics at Egypt's leading religious university appealed Thursday to President Hosni Mubarak to "purify" the Culture Ministry of those who insult Islam, even though a book that triggered two days of rioting was ruled free of blasphemy, AP reported.
The agency said sixty members of the Azhar Scholars Front named books they blamed for the spread of drug addiction, secret marriages, devil worship, incest and rape. The clerics urged President Hosni Mubarak in a statement to act swiftly "to stop this crime and purify the Culture Ministry from all of those who insult Islam, country and ethics."
The Azhar Scholars Front opposes the moderate Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, added AP.
Among the books and novels singled out by Al-Azhar scholars is "Season of Migration to the North" by Sudanese author Tayeb Salih, published in 1970. "An Invitation for Dialogue" by philosopher Hassan Hanafi also was cited among "books of ill-repute", AP said.
"This trash is financed by the state and is flooding the market with the cheapest of prices," the clerics were quoted as saying.
The Culture Ministry, they said, reprinted the books as a part of a "reading for all campaign" begun in 1996.
Ibrahim Aslan, the Culture Ministry's official in charge of publications, confirmed Thursday that Salih's novel was part of the campaign to reissue Arabic literature classics. He refused further comment.
The riots were triggered Sunday and Monday by the 1983 novel "A Banquet for Seaweed," by Syrian author Haidar Haidar.
The student unrest at Al-Azhar University followed an article in the Islamic-oriented newspaper Al-Shaab condemning the novel, saying it called God "a failed artist," referred to the Muslim prophet Mohammed as "a man of many marriages" and said the Koran was excrement - Albawaba.com
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