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Thirty-five books banned from Kuwaiti Book Fair

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 21 September 2010, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said the decision of the Kuwait Book Fair administrators to bar thirty-five titles from display at the fair, which begins in mid-October, is a continued restriction on freedom of expression. Kuwait recently began cracking down on journalists, trying them for opinion pieces asserting that the relative openness in Kuwait compared to its Gulf neighbours was a sweet memory.

The book fair administration decided to bar thirty-five titles by distinguished Egyptian and Arab writers, claiming the books were contrary to the fair and state policies despite the fact that the books have not been banned in any Arab country and they do not address the Kuwaiti government or society in any way.

The barred titles include ,"What life taught me" by Mohamed Hasanein Heikal, "Arab intellectuals and Israel" by Galal Amin, "The maligned bunch" by Fahmy Howaidi, "Tyrants and the unjust" by Gamal Badawi , "Poppies" by Khairy Shalabi, "Stories of the Institute" by Gamal alGhitany and "Upper Egypt train" by Youssef al-Kaeed.

In addition, all books by Alaa al-Aswani were barred as well as other titles by Egyptian and Arab writers published by the al-Shorouk and al-Ein print houses.

ANHRI said, "The Kuwaiti government should correct this mistake immediately. Barring books is a blemish on the Kuwaiti government's record on human rights."

Needless to say, in the Internet age it has become extremely difficult to hinder citizens from accessing information and becoming aware of differing opinions, rendering this type of control useless, yet this is a clear display of the hostility of the Kuwaiti state towards freedom of expression.

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