03/18/2014, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Deemed (also) blasphemous, hundreds of books seized at the Riyadh Book Fair

Saudi religious police gets organisers to pull works deemed "against Islam" or "undermining security" in the kingdom. About 10,000 copies of 420 books are seized, including the works of famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, as well as books on 'When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car?', 'The History of Hijab' and 'Feminism in Islam'.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Saudi Arabia's religious police, the Muttawa, seized hundreds of books from the Riyadh International Book Fair (pictured) as part of a crackdown on publications deemed a threat to the kingdom.

A local daily, Okaz, reported that organisers of the Riyadh International Book Fair confiscated "more than 10,000 copies of 420 books," including books by Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish for their "blasphemous passages".

Local news website sabq.org reported that the Muttawa pressed organisers to pull all the works by the late Darwish, widely considered one of the greatest Arab poets.

Similar action was taken against works by Badr Shaker al-Sayyab, Iraq's most famous modern poet, those of fellow Iraqi poet Abdul Wahab al-Bayati, as well as those by Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso.

Fair organisers also banned a book entitled When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car? by Abdullah al-Alami, the Saudi Gazette daily reported.

Other banned books include The History of Hijab and Feminism in Islam.

Before the event, which began 4 March, organisers had announced that any book deemed "against Islam" or "undermining security" in the kingdom would be confiscated.

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