Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A book on Identity, political Islam and democracy

The Crisis of Islamic Culture (2005, La crise de la culture Islamique)

Author: Hichem Djaït
Publishing House: Cérès (Tunisia,

About the Book: An analysis on crucial questions such as identity, modernity, nationalism, political Islam, Islamic movements, the holy, the profane and democracy.

Hichem Djaït examines without indulgence the efforts deployed, in the last century and a half, by intellectuals and leaders of the Islamic world in order to adapt themselves and their societies to the “unbelievable novelties of modernity”. The author strongly points out that “Arabs and Muslims will not be able to enter into modernity and participate to the modern world unless they give themselves great goals in the fields of thought, knowledge, science, art and literature and borrow from the others what modernity has created in all these domains".

Language: French
Number of pages: 220 pages
Format: 14,5 x 21 cm
To Buy the Book:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Algerian School books glorifying colonialism

"Unforgivable crime against the Algerian historic memory"

"[...] an expression glorifying colonialism in Algeria in the 5th primary year history book and another one offending freedom fighters in the 4th intermediate year history book.
"The expression glorifying the French colonialism was mentioned in P17 as follows: 'in the early 19th century, during the industrial revolution, France developed its army and built up its military capacities which allowed to free Algeria.” Specialists say that the expression “to freeeAlgeria” is an attempt to alter History and to glorify French colonialism, especially, given the fact that the book was cloned on history programmes adopted by the former coloniser.

"Furthermore, the 4th intermediate history book quoted in P59 'At the end of WWII, the French coloniser barbaric aspect was finally disclosed. This has fuelled the People’s Party militants’ extremism and the gap between them and those who aspired at a pacific coexistence with France [...]'. Historians consider that the expression 'extremists' [is undermining the memory of the revolution]. [...]"

El Khabar (Algeria), October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

12th International Book Fair in Algeria

The 12th International Book Fair in Algeria is going to take place in Algiers between the 31st of October and the 9th of November.
559 publishing houses are going to participate in the Book Fair.

1,000 New Books Banned From Display At Algeria Book Fair

A source on the supervisory committee of Algeria's annual book fair said that some 1,000 new books, some 90% of which were religious, had been banned from display.

Under the fair's 2003 statutes, books supporting terrorism or racism, harming national and territorial unity, or harming public morals, Allah, or the prophets may not be displayed.

Source: El-Shorouq El-Yawmi (Algeria), October 23, 2007

First Arabic language publishing house to open in Rome

"Italy's Arabic language publishing house will next week launch in Rome, in a bid to bridge the shortfall of European literary works available in Arabic and vice versa, reported Italian daily La Repubblica.

"It is called Sharq-Gharb or East-West, and plans to publish famous Italian literary works such as Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as more modern works such as The Days of Abandonment by leading contemporary author Elena Ferrante, among others. [...]"

Adnkronos, October 26, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sana’a holds 24th International Book Fair

"Books of all genres and languages are for sale at the 24th annual Sana’a International Book Fair, which began on Monday. The fair, organized by the General Authority for Books, is a chance to see books of all types under one roof, said Faris al-Saqqaf, head of the GAB.

“'It is a re-consideration of the book as we know it.' The fair also includes a number of cultural events such as concerts, lectures, and books signings. [...]

More than 270 local and foreign publishing houses and 14 official publishers from various Arab countries will display over 500,000 titles during the book fair. The fair runs until November 2. As was the case last year, the books are being sold at the same price as bookshops. [...]

“Most of the people come to the fair to ask for books and publishers so they now where to find them later on. Many people, especially students, do not have that much money to buy the books seen in these publishing houses,” he said. [...]

“The fair is important in the consolidation of Yemeni culture since the book is still the basic resource for culture. Even with the evolution of technology and the information revolution, the book remains very important. The government is keen to develop such fairs annually so that they become distinct book fairs. Yemeni culture should be consolidated for the next generation, which must learn to read.” The Prime Minister praised the efforts made by the Ministry of Culture and the General Authority of Books, which organized the fair and expressed satisfaction with the management and diversity of books displayed. [...]"
Source: Yemen Observer, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

A book to understand Sunni and Shi'a divisions

The Great Discord, Religion and politics at the origins of Islam (2007, La grande discorde, Religion et politique dans l’Islam des origines)

Author: Hichem Djaït
Publishing House: Cérès (Tunisia,

About the Book: The Great Discord deals with the relationship between politics and religion at the origins of Islam, taking into consideration several levels. First, the author analyses, from an historical and critical perspective, the period of primeval caliphate and mostly its last phase, the Great Discord (Fitna).

During this period, through a struggle that lasted more than five years, the “nation of Muhammad", the Umma, was torn apart. This was a period of crisis and civil wars that caused great divisions in Islam that was thereinafter split into Sunni, Shi'a and Kharji denominations.

On a different level, primeval caliphate keeps on being of great interest to modern Muslims who still project over this period the politico-religious debate deriving from the impact with modernity and the independence of national states.

Secularization of politics and of the State or Islam? A question that continues to split modern Islamic conscience in two.

Today, this critical reading of the origins is even more indispensable since it allows to better understand the present revamping of the conflict between Sunnis and Shi'as.

Language: French
Number of pages: 413 pages
Format: 14,5 x 21 cm

"Egyptian poet fears for life after 'infidel' ruling"

"Renowned Egyptian poet Ahmed al-Shahawi said he fears for his life after the Center for Islamic Research, the highest jurisprudence body at Al-Azhar, declared him an 'infidel'.

"Al-Shahawi told that he has filed a lawsuit against the Grand Imam Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, who signed the fatwa (religious edict).'Questioning my faith without listening to what I have to say is unacceptable', Al-Shahawi said.

"The poet said Egypt's National Security Bureau referred the second volume of his book Commandments on the Love of Women (Wasaya fi Eshk Al-Nesaa) to the Center 10 months after it hit the stands.

"Based on the Center's report, the book was confiscated, and all copies were withdrawn. The first volume of the book was subjected to the same treatment when released in 2003.

"Al-Shahawi's attorney, Hamdi al-Asyouti appealed to the Minister of Interior and the Grand Imam to revoke the confiscation. In his memorandum, Al-Asyouti stated that the wording of the Center's first fatwa 'sanctions shedding Al-Shahawi's blood and explicitly calls him an infidel.'

"Al-Shahawi said he did not understand why the second volume was given to the same person who wrote the apostasy report in 2003. He said he doesn't expect the court ruling to be in his favor, but he wanted to demonstrate how 'this historic religious institution' is hurling groundless allegations of apostasy and is becoming more fanatical than Islamist extremist groups.

"'How could they render me an infidel in absentia?', Al-Shahawi wondered. 'With this unprecedented lawsuit, I refuse to bow to Al-Azhar's authority. If they want to take me to court, I'll do the same to them.' The Center's General Secretariat did not comment on the matter. Al-Shahawi is planning to file another two lawsuits against two scholars at the center, Dr. Abdel-Rahman Al-Adawi and Dr. Mohamed Raafat Osman, for accusing him of apostasy and endangering his life. [...]"

Source: Al (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 24, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Books for Children in Saudi Arabia

"With many Saudi writers of the new generation showing tendencies toward taboo subjects such as sex, religion, and politics, others have chosen to concentrate on different areas and write for children. Numbers of young Saudi young writers target the new generation; however, their work faces problem in reaching children as reading is not yet a pastime for most Saudi children.

"Though reading remains at the bottom of parents' and educational institutions' priorities, Wafa Kamel, Executive Director of "Annabtah" Publishing Company which specializes in children's literature, pointed out that there are local publishing and distribution companies as well as annual children's books exhibitions. [...]

"For many years there were no Saudis writing for children for the simple reason that there was no financial reward in doing so. That, however, is changing now and there are Saudi writers who write for Saudi children on subjects that the children know and understand.

"Mona Alosaymi, a 28 year-old, is an artist [...]. She says, 'Every culture requires dealing with different subjects and that's why it is important for Saudis to write for children and discuss issues that are of concern to our society'. She published her first children's story last September; it deals with phenomena that is widespread among Saudi children. 'It's common for many children feel inferior to others of different colors, family names, or income levels. The story highlighted the criteria that one should be called 'a better person' based on ethics and behaviors and on nothing else'.

"Yousif Almohaimeed is another Saudi writer. He admits that foreign characters and stories translated from other languages are still the most popular among Arab children. He explained this by saying that although some Arabic children's books are as good as any foreign ones, they are not widely read by Arab children. He says that this is because foreign children's books often includes a range of subjects that children enjoy. 'Arabic stories, on the other hand,' he said, 'tend to be either religious or strictly educational. He stressed that reading translated books is not negative, especially if the book deals with human experience which all children are familiar with."At the same time,' he pointed out, 'our books should be a display of our experience and our view of the world'."
Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

France Celebrated Algerian Literature

The French Mediterranean Art Centre has selected Algeria as a main theme for studies in a seminar on October 11th at Perpignan (Southern France). The theme of the seminar was “Algeria … Inter-crossed opinions on the foot steps of Albert Camus and Kateb Yacine.”

[...] Algeria was represented through the play “1962” to its stage director Mohammed Gacimi as well as through the screening of some Algerian movies for instance the French –Moroccan film “the brother enemy” in which the Algerian comic Mohammed Fellag played a part.

Source: (Algeria)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Negm, Egyptian opposition poet, out of hospital

One of Egypt’s most famed poet-cum-politicians has left hospital after being admitted over suspicions of a blood clot to his brains. Ahmed Fouad Negm, 78, insisted on checking out to recover at home when his physicians found out he was suffering from hypertension.

Dubbed the "poet of the people" and considered by many as a "folk hero", Negm is known for his harsh criticism of the regime and his fiery poems that got him to spend a total of 18 years behind bars.

Source: (Saudi owned, based in Dudai), October 11, 2007

Well-known Moroccan Author against Islamist ideology

On Islamism: A personal refutation to religious fondamentalism (2006, De l'islamisme : Une réfutation personnelle du totalitarisme religieux)

Fouad Laroui
Publishing House: Robert Laffont

About the Book:
"It's enormously readable, it has lots of humor (just like Laroui's novels), and it manages to bring a few fresh perspectives on a topic that has been beaten half to death. Laroui's background in science also comes in handy as he deconstructs some of the ridiculous claims made by religious extremists". Source: Moroccan authro Laila Lalami's blog,

Number of pages: 198 pages
Format: 135 x 215 mm

Christian conversions in the colonial Algeria

Christians of Kabyle, 1873-1954 (2004, Chrétiens de Kabylie, 1873-1954)

Author: Karima Direche-Slimani
Publishing House: Bouchène (Algeria,

About the Book: Conversions to Christianity, in colonial Algeria, are a little known phenomenon that didn’t receive much attention by scholars of social sciences. Muslims converting themselves to Christianity in the framework of French colonization have rather made the object of excessive representations linked to the idea of treason and infamy.

Kabyle has been the region where a policy of evangelization has been experimented and that begun around 1870, on the initiative of Charles de Lavigerie, archbishop of Algiers from 1867. Convinced of the existence of old Christian roots in Berber society, he conducted missionary activities in mountainous Kabyle that he deemed like the African Lebanon.

Number of page: 144 pages
Format: 16x24 cm
To Buy the Book:

A Noteworthy Book on Arab Media

(Un)Civil War of Words: Media and Politics in the Arab World (2007)

Author: Mamoun Fandy (Senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, writer and columnist for the leading Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat)
Publising House: Praeger Security Intl. (US,

About the Book: "As the war on terror rages, another battleground has quickly taken shape and is being waged on daily newscasts around the world. In the Arab world, al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya are leading the fight. Do these news networks simply provide the news? Or, are they, as westerners suspect, tools used by governments and terrorists alike to relay their message to the man on the street as both Arab and Western leaders struggle to win the hearts and minds of millions of people? Fandy examines the impact that these and other news organizations have had on the war on terror, on the Arab world, and on the relationships that Arab nations share with each other, as well as those they share with the West. Focusing on al-Jazeera and other Arab networks, Fandy examines the battle between the Arab world and the West through the popular medium of television. He explores how autocratic governments control the media in order to preserve their own power while simultaneously engaging in a war of words, either with their neighbors, the West, or many times, both". Source:

Language: English
Number of page: 176 pages
Format: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
To Buy the Book:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Book Celebrates Achievements of Saudi Women

Marking the dynamic change in the lives of Saudi women in the past few years, journalist Ali Fagandash is currently working on the second edition of a collection of biographies of successful Saudi women. The first edition of “Women of Saudi Arabia” was published last year and included profiles of 80 women, contemporary and from the 20th Century. The book sold out.

“I wanted to show to the world that despite the image of Saudi women, and despite all difficulties, there are quite a lot of women in Saudi Arabia who have excelled at their professions, be it media, education, fine arts, business and entertainment.”

The 2006 edition of the book focused primarily on women of the Hijaz (from the western coastal region of the Kingdom). The second edition, said Fagandash, would include a greater variety of women from across the Kingdom. The author said he is planning to release translations in French and English.

The first edition included Saudi Arabia’s first woman novelist Samira Khashoggi. The black-and-white picture accompanying the biography shows a woman with a 1960s-era garcon hairdo and no head scarf. At the beginning of the book is Rajaa Al-Sanea, the author of the much-publicized book “The Girls of Riyadh”. Al-Sanea’s color photograph shows a young woman in a black hijab and full makeup.

The book also includes singers Toha and Ibtisam Lutfi, from the first generation of Saudi singers, as well as the contemporary Arabic pop singer Waad.

Fagandash said the second edition would be available in Saudi book stores next year.

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), October 8, 2007, by Ebtihal Mubarak

A Breathtaking Novel with a jasmine scent from Tunisia

Brasilia Café (2006)

Author: Ahmed Mahfoudh
Publishing House: Cérès (Tunisia,

About the Book: A breathtaking novel about Tunis in the ‘70s. Loves, friendships, revolutions and dreams. Brasilia café, located inside the Palmarium, place devoted to arts and intellects, is the beating heart of the city, the point towards which desires and illusions, present and past, students and actors converge.

From Bourguiba Avenue to rue Bach Hamba, from the Municipal Theatre to the new suburbs, from Salammbô to Borj Erroumi, destinies overlap or break out, locked away by obsession or jalousie, always in pursuit of the swift passage of time. Under a reddish sky, the air filled with dust and jasmine scent, laughter and psalmodies, first sexual experiences and turnaround of situation, a murder takes place.

Brasilia café, is a story of rare qualities, that describes, with an free and catchy overtones, all the complexity and hopes of life.

Language: French
Number of pages: 146 pages
Fortmat: 13,5x21cm
To Buy the Book:

Professor Menahem Milson on The Saudi Novel Girls of Riyadh

In an April 14, 2007 interview on an Arabic program on Israeli TV, Professor Menahem Milson discussed the novel Banat Al-Riyadh ("Girls of Riyadh") by Saudi author Dr. Rajaa Al-Sanie, which describes the lives of four young women in Riyadh. The novel is structured as a series of emails sent anonymously by one of the young women.

Banat Al-Riyadh, which was published in 2005, sparked much controversy in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, with some praising it for its boldness and literary merit, and others condemning it as provocative.

It is possible to view the interview in the following link:

Arab ‘Prince of Poets’ Crowned in UAE

Millions of Arabs witnessed the crowning of the “Prince of Poets” in the largest cultural competition in the world for choosing the best poet in classical Arabic [...].

The contest is considered a milestone in helping revive classical Arabic poetry. For Arabs, poetry is considered the ultimate art form that has the capability of producing profound emotions in its listeners. As a result Arabs have called poetry “the lawful magic” (“sihr halal”). Classical Arabic poetry dates back to pre-Islamic eras.

Emirati poet Karim Maato took first place with a reward of Dhs1 million. Mohammed Wald Al-Talib from Mauritania took the second spot winning Dhs500,000. Saudi Jassim Al-Sahih came in as second runner up, bagging Dhs300,000. Sudanese poet Rawdha Al Haj, the only woman to reach the finals, took fourth place and walked away with Dhs200,000. The fifth-place winner was Palestinian Tamim Al-Bargouthi; he won Dhs100,000. [...]

Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), September 9, 2007, by Shadiah Abdullah