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Authorities confiscate book on Arab Spring uprisings

(ANHRI/IFEX) – 22 March 2012 – ANHRI condemned the Saudi government for confiscating the book Questions of the Revolution, written by Sheikh Salman Ben-Fahd al-Odah. On 14 March 2012, the authorities seized all copies available at the Riyadh Book Fair and ordered the administrator of the Book Fair to sign a pledge not to sell it.

“Today my book Questions of the Revolution was seized at the Book Fair. This is not the time for banning, censorship, and confiscation,” said Sheikh al-Odah on Twitter (@salman_alodah). Al-Odah is vice president of the Nosra Global Organization, the Assistant Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and a member of the European Fatwa Council.

Al-Odah's book topped the list of sales at the Book Fair, and contrary to what the Saudi authorities might think, it does not include an incitement to revolution. It analyses and lists the causes and motives of a revolution and provides an analytical study to critique the Arab revolutions, what has become of them in the course of one year, and their anticipated trajectory in the coming period. Thus, there is no reason for the authorities to ban and confiscate the book.

However, al-Odah challenged the decision to confiscate his book. In response, he published the book online and made his book available online to his nearly one million followers on Twitter, extending its reach far beyond the people who would have bought the book at the book fair.

“Freedom for authors and innovators must not be restricted. How can a country progress when it confiscates and bans literary works that respect readers' minds and benefit readers?” said ANHRI.

“The Saudi authorities should immediately revoke their decision to ban the book and respect writers' freedom of opinion and expression. In the Internet age, there is no purpose in confiscating a book. It only serves to embarrass the authorities,” said ANHRI.

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