Detained Journalists, Launch of Kotobi.Com, and Other Scenes from the 2014 Cairo International Book Fair

Yemeni journalist Fras Shamsan and Bahraini journalist Firas Mohamed Abdel Hamid Mohamed were both apparently arrested at this year’s Cairo International Book Fair for filming and possessing cameras:

yemeni_journalist_detainedJournalist Mohamed Abdelfattah and others shared photos of Shamsan today on twitter. Abdelfattah said that the Yemeni journalist is being detained after “reportedly filming at Cairo book fair.”

Earlier this week, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announced that Nasr City prosecution had jailed Bahraini journalist Firas Mohamed for “four days pending investigation over charges of possessing recordings, videos and camera.”

According to ANHRI, “Security forces arrested the journalist at Cairo International Book Fair, on the 1st of February, while he was doing a press report about the book fair for a cultural website.”

Elsewhere at the fair, business went on as usual, and there seemed to be an uptick in visitors — with the exception of January 25 — over the previous two years. There were several big events, including the launch of Kotobi.Com, a new Vodafone webstore where Arabic e-books can be purchased and downloaded all over the world.


A number of new books were released — including Muhammad Aladdin’s A Well-trained Stray, Essam Youssef’s Two Officers, and Ibrahim Abdelmeguid’s This is Cairo, among many others. Mohga Hassib, who interviewed Ibrahim Abdelmeguid about his International Prize for Arabic Fiction-longlisted novel Clouds Over Alexandria, stopped by the signing of his new book. 

Photo credit: Mohga Hassib.

Essam Youssef was also there, signing a copy of his old book — 1/4 Gram — for a fan:

Photo credit: Mohga Hassib.

The book blogger Michelle Lancaster (@txbooklover) — seen below poking through the book stalls and getting a book signed — also took her first visit to the Cairo fair, and she said she was “most impressed by the egalitarian atmosphere of the book fair. It seems the government has done a good job of keeping it accessible for all socio-economic levels. It cost one Egyptian pound to get in. Book fairs here in the US tend to take themselves very seriously, dry and rather academic or entirely ‘too cool.’ The book fair in Cairo reminded me of the state fair here in Texas: music and food and entire families having a great time together.”

Lancaster also note that a young woman in security “searched my bag and found the camera then took me over to security and they examined the camera.” 

Photo credit: Michelle Lancaster.

At the central pavilion:

Photo credit: Michelle Lancaster.

There was also a much higher security and army presence at this year’s fair:


Other moments from the fair:

Syrian publishers told Ahram Online‘s Mohammed Saad that they came to the Cairo Book fair “because we are still alive.” 

Ganzeer’s “priceless finds” at the Cairo International Book Fair. 

At the book fair, Kuwait — this year’s guest of honor — announced a plan to sponsor Egyptians. 

Kuwait also organized a history of Egyptian caricatures, among other things

In Al-Ahram Weekly, Noha Moustafa writes about the fair and how “the economic slowdown over the past three years has brought major changes to the publishing industry.”

As in previous years, the giant Saudi pavilion saw heavy turnout, according to the Saudi publication Arab News.