Read between...what lines? Saudi bans thousands of books at Riyadh fair, calls Darwish blasphemous
Saudi recently hosted a book fair in Riyadh, but there was a catch: there were no books….well, at least in part.
According to Agence France Presse, Saudi authorities confiscated more than 10,000 copies of 420 books that were supposed to be part of the capital's book exhibition after the country's religious police cited some works as containing "blasphemous passages," "against Islam" and "undermining the country's security."
For Saudi, perhaps this is not such a revolutionary story, but the book confiscation is considered unprecedented due to its scope and selection, with KSA deciding to include renowned Arab writers and poets such as Mahmoud Darwish's works in its publication ban crackdown.
And it wasn't just Darwish who received the kick out the door from KSA. Other famous writers from the region such as Iraq's Badr Shaker Al Sayyab and Abdul Wahab Al Bayati also were banned. Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso was also banned.
The fair, which commenced March 4 and ended Friday, also made sure that "The History of the Hijab," "Feminism in Islam," and "When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car?" were also nowhere to be seen on the exhibition's shelves.
And the crackdown did not stop there. During the event, religious police authorities closed the Arab Network for Research and Publishing's stall at the exhibition. Citing "threats to the kingdom's security," all of the organization's publications were confiscated.
What was meant to be a crackdown, however, seems to have spurred the reverse: According to activist Aziza Youssef, the ban has "offered free advertising" for the banned authors, which has led many Saudis-as well as others globally-"rushing to download these works from the internet."