Like many Egyptian intellectuals, some of whose works have been denounced as disrespectful to Islam, Mr. Mahfouz in recent years had been put on a “death list” by Islamic fundamentalists who were said to be responsible for hundreds of terrorist killings in Egypt and abroad.
Death threats are of course the ultimate in censorship. Not only did Mr. Mahfouz not let the death threats stop him from writing books that Islamic fundamentalists considered blasphemous he supported Egypt's peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Critics compared his richly detailed Cairo with the London of Dickens, the Paris of Zola and the St. Petersburg of Dostoyevsky.
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