Yesterday, I got a ticket and took a brief tour of the Virtual Museum of Censorship.

It’s not as wide-ranging as I’d hoped; there are other incidents of censorship in Lebanon which spring to mind — theater, mostly — and I was hoping for access to some of the censored material, but it’s definitely an interesting start.

In the “books” category, the VMOC highlights the censorship of Layla Baalbaki, Abdo Wazen (he’s appeared a number of times in translation in Banipal), Habib Harb, as well as the loss of foreign-language titles like The Diary of Anne Frank and Schindler’s List and the somewhat more negligible banning of The Da Vinci Code.

The VMOC is nowhere near as thorough as the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, which does perhaps the best job of tracking censorship in Arabic-writing countries, particularly Egypt. However, the ANHRI website is quite crammed with information, and is perhaps best-suited to a researcher or reporter vs. a casual visitor. I also have never seen anything like the VMOC’s excellent diagram of how censorship happens, who does it, and why(ish).

It’s interesting that the VMOC organizerse have chosen a “museum” as a framing device, which seems to promote a “behind-glass” or “at-arm’s-length” aspect to the viewing process rather than a call to arms. But it’s quite informative and transparent (at least in English), which is excellent.

But it is unfortunate that, unless I’m missing something (which is altogether probable), the website seems to be only in English.