Nearly 5,000 evacuees from Sudan in Saudi operations

Nearly 5,000 evacuees from Sudan in Saudi operations

Tunisia: the return of censorship or not in Tunisia? On Saturday, opinions differed at the Tunis International Book Fair, a day after an article criticizing President Kais Saied was withdrawn, and the booth of its publishing house was closed.

The publisher of “Tunisian Frankenstein”, drawn by a caricature of Mr. Said, reopened his stand at the end of the morning, assuring AFP that he had “cleared misunderstandings” with the fair’s organizers.

On Friday, the security men confiscated all copies for sale and closed the booth of the Tunisian publishing house “La Maison du Livre” under the pretext of “possession of unlicensed books.”

Less than an hour after the exhibition was inaugurated by President Saeed, who came to issue a fervent appeal for “free thought”.

After removing the tarpaulin that covered his stage and on which he had placed the sign “Closed by arbitrary decision,” Habib Al Zoghbi of Maison du Livre retracted his accusations of “censorship” on Saturday.

His publisher asserted that “the book in question was not confiscated on account of its content but because it was not included in the list initially submitted to the gallery management as required by the regulations”.

Its author, Kamel Al-Riahi, presented this fictional essay as a “political” book, evoking the story of Frankenstein embodied by Qais Said, who was elected according to him by showcasing the anger and frustrations of a people disillusioned with the system in place since the 2011 revolution, the first of the Arab Spring.

The publisher insisted on “hot remarks”, lamenting that the book’s withdrawal “was not a censorship but a matter of procedure”. He said he deleted it from his initial list, after the delay in printing.

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Zoghbi confirmed that some copies are “available in bookstores in Tunis,” and that they will be reprinted and will return to the exhibition by its end, on May 7.

In the booth next to the publisher Miskiliani, which was closed on Friday “in solidarity” with the Maison du Livre, the director is still convinced that the refusal of a book not previously registered is just “a pretext for its censorship.”

Murtada Hamza invokes a “book that tracks what is happening to the opponents of the president” who denounce the “authoritarian drift” since Qais Said’s coup on July 25, 2021, by which he granted himself full powers.

“not normal”

He says, “It is not natural that in 2023 we will be able to censor the idea and writing under any pretext.”

And in spite of everything, he reopened his stand on Saturday, “the fair’s first real day” as families flock to take advantage of deep discounts on usually expensive books.

On the stand of publisher Nirvana facing the Maison du Livre, Mohamed Bennour recalls the book’s incident from more than 70 years ago, including more than 40 years in publishing.

According to him, the obligation to present a list of books offered in advance “has been around for a long time” and dates back to the era of the father of independence, Habib Bourguiba (1956-1987).

He said it was intended to avoid the introduction of books “by Salafis and fundamentalists to teach the techniques of terrorism or to fight the secular state.”

This procedure continued under the dictator Ben Ali who also established censorship committees for literature and cinema.

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And it continued after the 2011 revolution and the fall of the regime, for fear of displaying works that “incite the manufacture of weapons or explosives,” according to him.

“This rule is well known and the publisher has accepted it like all of us. Therefore, we either play the game, or we decide not to participate in the fair as some publishers have done,” believes Mr. Bannour.

On the other hand, the publisher would like to revise this procedure “in consultation between cultural authorities, publishers and booksellers”.

He admits that “imposing the list is a form of censorship and control over the books on display, which is not normal.”

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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