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Saudi bans books at fair in wide-ranging crackdown

Published on Mar 16, 2014 8:39 PM
 
A man looks at books displayed on shelves during a book fair in Riyadh. Saudi authorities have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish, as part of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi authorities have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish, as part of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom.

The local Okaz daily reported on Sunday that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated "more than 10,000 copies of 420 books" during the exhibition.

Local news website Sabq.org reported that members of the kingdom's notorious religious police had protested at "blasphemous passages" in works by the late Darwish, widely considered one of the greatest Arab poets, pressing organisers to withdraw all his books from the fair, which ended on Friday.

The religious police frequently intervene to enforce the kingdom's strict conservative values, but the move to ban so many works was seen as unprecedented.

 
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