Last night, the final event for the 2012 Palestine Festival of Literature was shut down. According to a PalFest press release:
The 5th Palestine Festival of Literature (2012), taking place in Gaza for the first time, was shut down by the police on Wednesday evening. Three hours later, the Chief of Police visited the participants to officially apologize, stating it was an “individual error”
The closing event, in Dar al Basha, a historical house in Gaza City, was ordered to close down by police forces. Though the festival organisers had co-ordinated extensively with the Ministry of Culture the police cited “lack of a license” as the reason.
The participants and audience members all left the venue together, and boarded the festival bus and returned to the hotel, where the event was continued in the café.
Three hours later, the Chief of Police, his deputy and a colonel in the Interior Ministry visited the hotel. They officially apologized, stating that they have opened an investigation into what happened, that all the festival volunteers would be safe, and that personal effects that had been left behind in the confusion would be found and returned. They stated that PalFest would always be welcome in Gaza.
As planned, the festival will leave Gaza tomorrow in preparation for its closing event in Cairo on May 11th.
Reactions from participants and observers:
Ali Hocine Dimerdji @hocinedim
Good to see #Hamas doing everything it takes to liberate #Palestine by shutting down #PalFestGaza. #Sarcasm
@mardinix check #palfestgaza for details. In short hamas police gave us a taste of their everyday practices by aborting the closing event.
@JeneenYazouri @RanaGaza & the many other young palestinian women with us today: you, specifically, are my heroes. #palfestgaza
Nadine Marroushi @nadinemarroushi
YES RT @RanaGaza For Nakba’s sake, Hamas, Fatah and Israel’s racist regime need to be kicked out. #REVOLT #PalFestGaza
Ali Abunimah @AliAbunimah
In 2009, Israel police raided #PalFest & in 2011 Israel teargassed it. In 2012 Hamas police shut down #PalfestGaza closing session #shameful
Ahdaf Soueif writes about Gaza, great stuff. I read it just as #Palfest was raided by the idiots. http://www.shorouknews.com/columns/ahdaf-soueif (thanks @Linaattalah)