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Censors swoop on Khartoum International Book Fair

October 22 - 2017 KHARTOUM
A stand at the Khartoum International Book Fair 2016 (File photo)
A stand at the Khartoum International Book Fair 2016 (File photo)

Sudanese security officials have seized a number of books and novels from exhibits at the Khartoum International Book Fair that opened on Tuesday. The event, hosting 14 countries and more than 300 Sudanese and foreign publishing houses, will run until October 29. The latest confiscations echo similar seizures from the last two year’s events.

Reports reaching Radio Dabanga from several writers and novelists say that works by various authors and titles were confiscated at the fair, which is themed ‘Book the Bridge of Knowledge’, however the exact number and scope of the raid is still unclear.

The book seizure has caused a wave of anger and resentment in Sudanese cultural circles.

Emphasis on identity of Sudan

In his opening speech, Sudanese Minister of Culture Hassan Al Tayeb Badawi pointed out that “this is the first session of the book fair to occur after the national dialogue and national accord in Sudan, and after the discussion of more than 500 papers, including the emphasis on the identity of Sudan and the cohesion between the fabric of its children”.

Egypt was nominated to be first guest of honour at this year’s book fair. The Egyptian Culture Minister, Helmy El Namnam, who is currently visiting Sudan, held a meeting Tuesday with Sudanese Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh, Sudanese Culture Minister Hassan Badawi, and Egyptian Ambassador to Khartoum Osama Shaltout.

During the meeting, Namnam thanked Saleh for choosing Egypt to be the first guest of honour at the Khartoum International Book Fair.

Cultural cooperation

He told the press that the meeting tackled measures taken to boost cultural cooperation between Egypt and Sudan, and reviewed activities of the Khartoum International Book Fair.

Minister Namnam expressed his support for cultural cooperation between the two countries. Egypt’s Deputy Ambassador to Sudan, Karim Essam El Din, said at the time that “a committee representing the Egyptian Embassy and the Sudanese Culture Ministry was formed to make the necessary preparations for this important event”.

El Din held a meeting with Undersecretary of the Sudanese Culture Ministry Karam Allah Hamid to discuss the final arrangements for the fair, as well as the Egyptian figures and parties that would participate in the event “as part of the two countries’ keenness on strengthening bilateral relations”.

The Egyptian Culture Minister, Helmy El Namnam, who is currently visiting Sudan, held a meeting Tuesday with Sudanese Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh, Sudanese Culture Minister Hassan Badawi, and Egyptian Ambassador to Khartoum Osama Shaltout.

During the meeting, Namnam thanked Saleh for choosing Egypt to be the be first guest of honour at the Khartoum International Book Fair.

He told the press that the meeting tackled measures taken to boost cultural cooperation between Egypt and Sudan, and reviewed activities of the Khartoum International Book Fair.

Minister Namnam expressed his support for cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Other countries participating include UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, South Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, and Lebanon.

Previous seizures

In February, several books were confiscated from a book fair held by the Sudanese Writers Union at its premises in El Amarat district in Khartoum. The novel Christ Re-crucified by Nikos Kazantzakis was confiscated, Bird of Doom by the South Sudanese researcher and writer Francis Deng, The Messiah of Darfur by the Sudanese novelist Baraka Sakin, and works by Paulo Coelho and Sudanese writer Emad Abakar.

At the 2016 World Book Fair, a work by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel Love in the Time of Cholera was removed, and several Arabic novels were banned from circulation by the Sudanese security apparatus.

The circulation, display and sale of the Marquez novel, which was made into a movie in 2007, have been banned, while Abdallah El Assad’s Arabic novel Holy Chains was confiscated, along with a ban on its circulation, display and sale.

Author Abdel Aziz Barak told Radio Dabanga at the time that the security authorities confiscated three of his novels and four collections of short stories.

At the 2015 fair, literary publications were confiscated and six pieces by the Arag Masriya publishing house were banned from distribution.


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