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Authorities prohibit distribution of books at international fair

(BCHR/IFEX) - 3 April 2012 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern at the continued restrictions imposed on the freedom of press and publishing, with the local authorities prohibiting the distribution of several books at the Bahrain International Book Fair, held between 22 March and 1 April 2012.

On 25 March 2012, two days after the start of the book fair, the Press and Publications Directorate affiliated with the Information Affairs Authority banned and confiscated all copies of the book "Political organizations and societies in Bahrain" (Arabic) which was co-authored by journalist Abbas AlMurshid and the currently-detained human rights defender Abdulhadi AlKhawaja in 2007, and was printed by a Bahraini press house and distributed without problems since 2010. The publisher was told by the Publications Directorate that there were complaints by a local loyalist group about the book's cover which contains a photograph of the currently-detained political leader Ebrahim Sharif, the head of the National Democratic Work Society. Sharif was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment by a military court last June for allegedly "plotting a coup against the government".

The book's writer, AlMurshid, had been detained by the Bahraini security forces for around 2 months last year (16 May - 10 July 2011) during the crackdown on pro-democracy citizens and media professionals, and he was brought before a military court on 27 June 2011 for charges related to participating in protests and writing and publishing articles online. His case was later stopped due to international pressure.

The Press and Publications Directorate also banned another book by AlMurshid, titled "Bahrain in the Gulf Gazetteer" (Arabic) from distribution. The representatives of the Press and Publications Directorate confiscated all copies that were presented at the pavilion of the Bahraini publishing house, "Faradees House" at the Bahrain International book Fair.

"Bahrain in the Gulf Gazetteer", published in February 2011, is based on historical and geographical material about Bahrain which was included in the "Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia" by J.G. Lorimer. No reason was given by The Press and Publications Directorate for banning the book.

Other books that were banned by The Press and Publications Directorate at the Bahrain international book fair include "Jazaweyat", a novel by the Saudi author Fahad Fatik, and "Wahhabism", a study by the Saudi author Miqat AlRajehi.
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