Eight notable books banned by Middle Eastern regimes

Published January 24th, 2016 - 09:35 GMT

In December, the Israeli government banned the award-winning novel Borderlife from school curriculums. The book, by Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan, told the story of a Jewish woman from Tel Aviv falling in love with a young Palestinian artist. Israel’s Ministry Of Education justified the ban by saying Israeli schoolchildren were not concerned enough with the “significance of miscegenation.”   

But Israel is far from the only country in the Middle East that has officially prohibited “dangerous” novels from besmirching the minds of their noble citizens. Let’s take a look at other works of fiction that have been suppressed by the region’s rulers over the years.

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salman rushdie satanic verses

In 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie after Rushdie published "The Satanic Verses." The fatwa extended to anyone involved in publishing the novel. Rushdie went into hiding, while translators & publishers of the tome were beaten, stabbed & even shot by Islamists in places as far away as Milan, Oslo and Tokyo.

feast for seaweeds haidar haidar

In 1999, Egypt banned the novel “A Feast For Seaweeds” after being pressured by Islamists who believed the fictional work was “insulting to religion.” The novel is about two Iraqi intellectuals living in exile in Algeria.

da vinci code lebanon

In 2004, under pressure from the country’s influential Catholic minority, the government of Lebanon banned the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, in which Jesus and Mary Magdalene have a baby together. "Christianity is not about forgiveness to the point of insulting Jesus Christ," one Lebanese Catholic official said at the time.

metro magdy el shafee

In 2008, the graphic novel “Metro” by Magdy El Shafee was banned by the Egyptian government. The book is about a young engineer frustrated by social injustice and government corruption. Shafee was convicted of “disturbing public morals” and fined $1,000.

karam banna where is god?

In 2011, a complaint against author Karam Banna was filed in Egypt alleging that Banna’s book of short stories, “Where is God?”, showed contempt for religion. As a result, Banna was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. Banna maintained that his work was fictional and that religious authorities had no basis on which to judge it.

garth ennis boys

In 2012, a comic book called “The Boys” by an Irish writer named Garth Ennis was reportedly banned by Qatar’s Ministry of Culture. A Qatari resident who tried to import the book said the government had seized and impounded it.

mahmoud darwish poetry

In 2014, a number of books by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish were yanked from a prominent book fair in Saudi Arabia after religious youths claimed the works “contain[ed] blasphemous messages.” Many secular Arabs were dismayed that Saudi religious police had censored one of the Arab world’s greatest writers.

sayyed qutb

In November 2015, Saudi Arabia reportedly pulled books by Muslim Brotherhood-related authors from school libraries, including works by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and the writer Sayyed Qutb, who is sometimes called the “intellectual godfather” of the Brotherhood, which KSA designates as a terrorist organization.

dorit rabinyan borderlife

In December 2015, Israel’s Education Ministry banned the award-winning novel “Borderlife” from school curriculums. The book is about a Jewish woman who falls in love with a Palestinian man. The Israeli government said schoolchildren were not worried enough about “the significance of miscegenation.”

salman rushdie satanic verses
feast for seaweeds haidar haidar
da vinci code lebanon
metro magdy el shafee
karam banna where is god?
garth ennis boys
mahmoud darwish poetry
sayyed qutb
dorit rabinyan borderlife
salman rushdie satanic verses
In 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie after Rushdie published "The Satanic Verses." The fatwa extended to anyone involved in publishing the novel. Rushdie went into hiding, while translators & publishers of the tome were beaten, stabbed & even shot by Islamists in places as far away as Milan, Oslo and Tokyo.
feast for seaweeds haidar haidar
In 1999, Egypt banned the novel “A Feast For Seaweeds” after being pressured by Islamists who believed the fictional work was “insulting to religion.” The novel is about two Iraqi intellectuals living in exile in Algeria.
da vinci code lebanon
In 2004, under pressure from the country’s influential Catholic minority, the government of Lebanon banned the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, in which Jesus and Mary Magdalene have a baby together. "Christianity is not about forgiveness to the point of insulting Jesus Christ," one Lebanese Catholic official said at the time.
metro magdy el shafee
In 2008, the graphic novel “Metro” by Magdy El Shafee was banned by the Egyptian government. The book is about a young engineer frustrated by social injustice and government corruption. Shafee was convicted of “disturbing public morals” and fined $1,000.
karam banna where is god?
In 2011, a complaint against author Karam Banna was filed in Egypt alleging that Banna’s book of short stories, “Where is God?”, showed contempt for religion. As a result, Banna was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. Banna maintained that his work was fictional and that religious authorities had no basis on which to judge it.
garth ennis boys
In 2012, a comic book called “The Boys” by an Irish writer named Garth Ennis was reportedly banned by Qatar’s Ministry of Culture. A Qatari resident who tried to import the book said the government had seized and impounded it.
mahmoud darwish poetry
In 2014, a number of books by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish were yanked from a prominent book fair in Saudi Arabia after religious youths claimed the works “contain[ed] blasphemous messages.” Many secular Arabs were dismayed that Saudi religious police had censored one of the Arab world’s greatest writers.
sayyed qutb
In November 2015, Saudi Arabia reportedly pulled books by Muslim Brotherhood-related authors from school libraries, including works by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and the writer Sayyed Qutb, who is sometimes called the “intellectual godfather” of the Brotherhood, which KSA designates as a terrorist organization.
dorit rabinyan borderlife
In December 2015, Israel’s Education Ministry banned the award-winning novel “Borderlife” from school curriculums. The book is about a Jewish woman who falls in love with a Palestinian man. The Israeli government said schoolchildren were not worried enough about “the significance of miscegenation.”

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