Critical of the choice of Israel as guest of honour, a number of Arab publishers and writers plan to boycott the 28th annual Paris Book Fair, held from March 14 to 19.
The call for Arabic authors and publishers to boycott the Paris Book Fair seems to be picking up steam before the event opens next week.
The boycott was launched by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) and taken up by the Union of Palestinian Writers. Lebanon’s minister of culture has indicated that Lebanon will abstain from participating this year "in order to take part in the protest against the decision of the organisers to nominate Israel as the guest of honour, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of [Israel’s] creation.”
Some Arabic publishing houses and authors have joined the boycott. Contacted by
But others say they sympathize with the protest, but will not join the boycott. “Personally, I am against the boycott of the Book Fair," he told FRANCE 24. "However, it is necessary to take advantage of this moment to address the 60 years since the Palestinian ‘nakba’ (catastrophe).” He added, “By celebrating
Regrets and Astonishment
The Israelis are disappointed. Nina Ben Ami, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in
The feelings of France's National Publishers' Association, organisers of the fair, oscillate between regret and astonishment. Christine de Mazières, a member of the association, says the Book Fair should not be taken hostage by political quarrels. She told
Did political pressure force them to change their tune? It's a question De Mazières declines to speculate on. She likes to think of the Book Fair as a celebration for the young and lovers of literature. “The absence of Arab countries is regrettable, but it will not dominate the Fair. Moreover, we expect a record turnout this year.” She added, “This Fair could have been wonderful occasion for Arab and Israeli authors to have a dialogue about the
Regretting the boycott, Christine Albanel, French minister of culture, nevertheless said that “France [agrees] to continue a policy of openness in regard to all types of literature, without exclusion or prohibition, in accordance with its tradition of open exchange.”
Date created : 2008-03-06