Just a few days after all the works by Saudi publisher Arab Network for Research and Publishing were removed from the Riyadh International Book Fair for violating the Kingdom’s laws, the works of globally celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish caused protests and have reportedly been withdrawn from the fair and are not to be sold:
Numerous news sources were reporting the removal of the books, while images and videos circulating on Twitter purported to show the protests against Darwish’s ouevre as well as the packing-up of Darwish’s books.
The order was reportedly given Wednesday to remove Darwish’s books from the fair after protestors objected to alleged blasphemy found in his works. A large crowd gathered, and security reportedly had to be called in. After that, the PVPV ordered the books removed.
This came not long after the Arab Network for Research and Publishing (ANRP) stall was removed from the fair and all the house’s books confiscated. In response to the ANRP seizure, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja released a statement that said, in part, “the Kingdom’s security is more important than anything, and trying to destabilize our unity can not be tolerated.”
Reaction to the seizure of Darwish’s books on Twitter ranged from cynical to furious. Saudi-based Redha Al-boori (@Redha_ph) wrote: