Resolution on Egyptian Censorship

Adopted at 1993 Annual Conference

Whereas, ALA in its Policy #57.3 states that "Threats to the freedom of expression of any person become threats to the freedom of all; therefore ALA adopts as policy the principles of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations' General Assembly. The association will address the grievances of foreign nationals where the infringement of their rights of free expression is clearly a matter in which all free people would show concern," and;

Whereas, Middle East Watch has documented instances of episodic censorship in Egypt, including the removal from circulation of books considered offensive by scholars at al-Azhar, an ancient Islamic religious research and educational institution;

Whereas, Alaa Hamed has been sentenced by the Egyptian courts to prison for writing a novel said to promote heresy and contempt for religion;

Whereas, Amnesty International has recently issues the report, Egypt: Grave Human Rights Abuses Amid Political Violence (May 1993);

Whereas, the American Library Association has found it appropriate to act on Policy 57.3 in the past by condemning censorship and the interference with library and archival operations in Grenada (CD 28, Midwinter '84; CD 75, Annual '89); South Africa (CD 21, Midwinter '85; CD 58, Annual '86; CD 97, Annual '90; CD 24, Midwinter '91), the United Kingdom (CD 49, Annual '85), Iraq and Kuwait (CD 18.4, Midwinter '91), Afghanistan (MD 1, Annual '91), and Israel (CD xx, Annual '92);

Whereas, the American Library Association has found it appropriate to act on Policy 57.3 in the past by championing the cases of A.B. Roginsky (CD 86, Annual '82), H. Mykhaylenko (CD 57, Annual '87), T.R. Mubudafhasi (CD 28, Midwinter '89; CD 42, Midwinter '90), S. Rushdie (CD 76, Annual '89), and O. al-Safi (CD xx, Annual '92);

Whereas, Egypt considers itself to be a democracy;

Whereas, Egypt is the recipient of the second largest amount of United States foreign aid (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1992, Table 1326, p.792);

Therefore Be It Resolved that the Social Responsibilities Roundtable make known to all that it condemns these acts of restriction of freedom of individual expression and the right of free dissemination of knowledge;

Be It Further Resolved that SRRT urges that the ALA Council endorse this resolution;

Be It Further Resolved that ALA encourages its members to develop ways to support human rights and freedom of information and expression in Egypt, and that the International Relations Committee (IRC) be asked to develop strategies towards these ends;

Be It Further Resolved that copies of this Resolution be sent to the appropriate persons, including but not limited to the U.S. Secretary of State, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United Nations, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

SRRT Newsletter Issue 109, p. 2