But the organizers agreed to postpone the nominations deadline, and publicize the festival more widely. I have seen articles about the festival in the Egyptian press. There is a link on the festival's site that allows one to nominate writers. (And the organizers of the festival actually solicited suggestions from Arabist--we could only think of a few, because of the age limit). So the festival does seem to have been open, even if a whole slew of nominations was submitted by Banipal editors.
So I'm left confused as to what Al Aswany's real, unsurmountable objection was. Articles in the Arab press have suggested--without quite coming out and saying so--that the festival's nominations list was fixed or flawed in some way. In any case, it seems a pity that an event promoting Arabic literature should be bogged down in rancorous debates and resignations before it even starts.