The PEN-Centre Germany has issued an open letter to the Austrian government, urging them to review their negative appraisal of Egyptian author OMAR HAZEK’S request for a visa to Europe. An honourary member of the Austrian PEN, Hazek was planning a tour to present an edition in German of his literary work in different venues in Austria and Germany. He was also expected to lead, with Abdelwahhab Azzawi (German PEN’s honourary member from Damascus) a conversation about the situation of writers in the Arab world.
In 2013, despite an international storm of protests and the mobilisation of human rights organisations and PEN centers around the world, Hazek had been sentenced to two years imprisonment for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration. The protestors were seeking justice for the blogger Khaled Said who had been tortured and beaten to death in 2010, while in police custody.
Hazek was finally released from prison two months ago.
In its letter, the PEN-Centre Germany deplores that the Austrian authorities, whose humanitarian principles should encourage to welcome a persecuted poet of international reputation, instead finds itself impeding international cultural exchange.