Egypt author threatens to sue over Hebrew translation

Cairo: An Egyptian author said on Saturday he would take legal action against the publishers of an unauthorized Hebrew translation of his bestselling novel, released without his permission by a Jerusalem-based group.

The Israel Palestine Center for Research and Understanding said it had translated Alaa al-Aswany`s novel ‘The Yacoubian Building’ and was offering it to readers for free, to "expand cultural awareness and understanding."

In a statement available online, the group said Aswany had refused to give permission for an authorized translation of the novel into Hebrew. The 2002 novel, which has been translated into 32 languages and distributed over 100 countries, offers a scathing critique of Egyptian society in the 1950s.

"This is a severe violation of my copyrights," Aswany told reporters. "The Yacoubian Building was translated, published and distributed for free without my permission."

Ansary would not say whether he would ever allow an authorized translation of the novel into Hebrew, but said publishing a translation without his permission amounted to "intellectual theft."

"Intellectual property of Arab writers is not up for grabs," Aswany said. "Israel radio has broadcast Egyptian songs without paying royalties. Songs of (Egyptian singer) Umm Kulthum are broadcast every day for free on Israeli radio without respecting copyrights. This would never happen to Frank Sinatra songs."

Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979, but ties have often been chilly.

Bureau Report


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