Censorship ‘Relaxed’ at Doha Book Fair

If nothing else, it creates a nice mental picture: censorship, stretched out on the beach, taking it easy. Ahhh.

Says Qatar’s arts and culture secretary general: “We do not censor books dealing with different opinions and ideas even if they are critical of us.” (We only censor things that would really, really, really undermine Islam or corrupt the youth.)

Yes, I’m sure.

Then again, government censorship is hardly the worst of it. I agree with Rasheed al-Asnany in both of these points: 1) social censorship is far more pernicious and has a deeper bite than that of the government, and 2) this social censorship extends to literary criticism, which often becomes more like literary boosterism.

On the other hand, when Lebanese writer Rayyan Al-Shawaf gives an overview of six books “dealing with the Middle East,” he is solidly critical of them all.