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ANHRI condemns censorship of novel by Arab Writers Union

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 19 October 2011 - ANHRI condemns the ongoing arbitrary measures in Syria that aim to suppress freedom of thought and creativity amid a popular uprising that is being supressed through detentions and assassinations. Such measures complement an organized campaign aimed at gagging all sorts of opposition.

The Arab Writers Union in Syria prevented the novel "Sayed Al-Hawma", written by Abdul-Nasser Al-Ayed and issued by Dar Al-Jamal publishing house, from being distributed. The union claims that the novel is "seditious", "glorifies the Persian race and belittles other races." The focus of the novel is Hassan Assabah, known as the commander of hashish addicts. This historic and problematic character has raised controversy among researchers.

It is worth noting that this clash is not the first of its kind for this novel. It was prevented from being printed in 2010 for the same reason, notably for being "seditious", as described by the Reading Committee of the Arab Writers Union in Syria.

"The situation in Syria has reached new heights. This autocratic regime has permitted itself to shed the blood of its people, and has used repressive methods to crush the uprising. Meanwhile, affiliates of the regime are censoring thought and creativity in an attempt to silence intellectuals by confiscating any creative works that contradict the opinions of the regime," said ANHRI.

"This incident is a violation of freedom of opinion and expression. Repression here is used to suppress creativity. This autocratic regime works on silencing any opposing opinion. 'Seditious' is also a vague meaningless charge that is employed according to the whims of those in power. We are surprised by the decision of the Arab Writers Union which is supposed to protect creativity, not to limit it," added ANHRI.

ANHRI demands that all organizations concerned about freedom of opinion and expression, as well as writers unions across the Arab world, support the author of this novel, announce their solidarity, and come to an agreement to take a stand against the repression of freedom of opinion, expression, and creativity.

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