Monday, November 26, 2007

Jailed Islamists Revise Jihad Concept

"Egyptian Islamist Osama Ayyub, a political refugee in Germany and head of the Islamic Center in Munster, which advocates the Islamic Jihad ideology, has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that there have been a number of attempts to carry out [ideological] revisions by Islamic Jihad leaders in Egyptian prisons.

"He said that these attempts preceded the release of 'The Rationalization of Jihad in Egypt and the World Today,' which is a book written by Dr Fadl, who is also known as Sayyid Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif. Dr Fadl is the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group and is Ayman al-Zawahiri's first mentor.

"Ayyub was born in 1966. He belongs to the Bani-Suwayf group and is the former religious head of Bayt al-Ansar in Peshawar. He described Islamic Jihad revision as 'a turning point on the road toward ideological revision, which the Islamic movement is pursuing today.'

"The revision document, which Al-Misri Al-Yawm is publishing, and of which Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of its first part, stresses that 'the performance of jihad for the sake of God has included several Islamic Shariaa violations, foremost among which is the killing of people on the basis of nationality, color of skin and hair, and sect'.

"The document says that 'these violations lead to nothing but God's resentment and indignation.' It adds that 'when a Muslim sets a goal for himself that exceeds his ability or that does not suit his situation then it is impermissible in Islam to use any illicit means to achieve this goal even if the goal itself is legitimate'. [...]"

Source: Asharq Al -Awsat (Saudi-owned, London-based), November 26, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Calls to close Sudanese website for 'homo' blur"

"A renowned Islamist figure in Sudan has joined a campaign calling for shutting down one of the biggest Sudanese websites, following articles posted there describing Islamists of being homosexuals.

"Leader of the salafist group Ansar Al-Sunnah Al-Mohamadeya (Protectors of Prophet Muhammad's Teachings) Sheikh Abou-Zeid Mohamed dedicated his Friday sermon to condemning, dubbing it as 'insulting faith and the prophet'. The sermon came in the wake of a campaign launched 10 days ago by the Sudanese daily Akher Lahza against the most popular website among Sudanese in exile.The paper's Deputy Editor-in-Chief Al-Hindi Ezz El-Din said the website, launched from the U.S., calls God 'a big illusion'.

"Ezz El-Din launched a severe campaign against U.S.-based engineer Bakri Abou-Bakr, the website's owner who, he said, 'knows nothing about journalism'. Ezz El-Din told that he received over 2800 emails from politicians and religious figures calling for closing the website. On his membership in Sudaneseonline, Ezz EL-Din said it was given to him by Abou-Bakr, insisting that he resigned two weeks later after he had found out that the website did not tackle serious issues. Ezz El-Din alleged that some of the website's members have ties with Israel, specifying acitivist Taragi Mustafa who established the Israeli Sudanese Fellowship Association: 'This website is supported by external bodies'.

"But in a phone interview with, Abou-Bakr said that his website is the meeting point of all Sudanese regardless of their political, ethnic, or religious background.'The website's 6,000 members include the most prominent Sudanese intellectuals, writers, musicians, media people, and scientists. They are all chosen carefully and in accordance with specific criteria'.

"Abou-Bakr called for Sudanese members of parliament to check the website and 'to find out how the accusations leveled against it are false'. He also said that the member who mentioned God was fired in 2005 for that reason: 'And they only brought that up now.' Abou-Bakr added that any offensive material is removed from the website and its writer is penalized. [...]

"The website receives between 165,000 and 170,000 visitors daily. The Sudan Telecommunications Public Corporation is currently studying the possibility of shutting down the controversial website."
Source: Al Arabiya (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), November 23, 2007

5th Conference of Islamic States Culture Ministers in Tripoli

The culture ministers of 57 countries took part in 5th Conference of Islamic States Culture Ministers in Tripoli, which was held under the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The gathering opened yesterday and run until November 23.

Iran and Libya to establish mutual cultural offices

"Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Saffar Harandi met with his Libyan counterpart during a meeting held on the sidelines of the 5th Conference of Islamic States’ Culture Ministers in Tripoli.

"Harandi made reference to the fact that both Iran and Libya have gone through revolutions and said that this common experience could help strengthen ties between the two countries.

"Harandi also stressed the need to establish cultural offices in both countries and proposed that Persian language courses be held in Libyan universities.

"Libya’s Minister of Culture Nouri al-Hamidi expressed his pleasure over the resumption of cultural activities between the two nations. [...]"

Source: Mehrnews (Iran), November 24, 2007

[News from Iran]: 14th Press Festival in Iran

On November 19, the Iranian daily Mardom-Salari analysed the outcome of the 14th Press Festival in Iran.
Hereby, a list of the daily's analysis:
  • The number of publications is far below the standard limits, and the level of the study of publications in the country is minimal.
  • Lack of exact information regarding the time of the convocation of the Exhibition.
  • The choice of the venue of the Press Festival can be considered as another weakness of the Press Festival. The Centre for the Development of Thought in Children and Youth was not a suitable venue for the convocation of the Press Festival.
  • Government-owned news agencies occupied the best areas in the Exhibition.
  • The pavilions of the government-owned and pro-government newspapers were located in the best halls.
  • The government gave prizes to eight journalists, who were critical of the government.However, it was not clear the criterion of the government for the awarding and whether the works that had been published had been scrutinized by the President's media consultants, or whether due to the shortage of time, a few were selectively scrutinized in view of the fact that till a week prior to the convening of the closing ceremonies of the Press Festival, there had been no mention of the award of prizes in this category, at least not any official announcement to that effect.
  • On the other hand, some individuals such as Hoseyn Shari'atmadari and Kazem Anbarlu'i - who are known for their support to the government and the President in the media - had been introduced as the chosen critics of the government.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kuwaiti Education Minister Decides To Remove Islamic Books From School Libraries, Kindergartens

Kuwaiti Education Minister Nouriya Al-Sabih has decided to remove Salafist Islamic books from school libraries and kindergartens.

MPs from the Islamic bloc demanded that she repeal her decision. One, MP Faysal Al-Mesalem, said that after he spoke with Ms. Al-Sabih, she promised to return the books to the school libraries.

Source: Al-Jarida, Kuwait, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Chicago" a new Egyptian Novel

"Alaa El-Aswany's second novel, Chicago - a 450-page tome set in the histology department of the university where Aswany earned his phD in that American state many years ago - has been even better received than The Yaqoubian Building, adapted into a movie last year.

"El-Aswany's name has become synonymous with best-selling literature, indeed even beyond the Arab world - evidence of which was to be had last week at the local launch of Actes Sud's French edition of Chicago, held at the French Cultural Centre and attended by some 200 Egyptian and French readers. [...]

"[...] The structure of Chicago [...] is different, like a gallery of portraits, each one executed down to the tiniest, most interesting detail: Shaimaa and Tarek as the couple hoping to conclude their love with a happy marriage; Salah, the professor locked up in his past love for Zeinab; and Nagui, questioning his very own existence. Each portrait takes up a prominent place inside the gallery, but beyond the gallery hall, as it were, only the faintest bonds hold the portraits together; and a closer look reveals that that gallery hall is more or less synonymous with Egypt.

"Besides the Egyptian characters, there are a number of Americans humanely portrayed: Carol, a black single mother who ends up as a nude model after failing to earn enough to cover her child's expenses, is one such. [...]

"Nagui, a communist student, starts out seeing the US as the Arab world's greatest enemy, but as time goes by, he finds out that America it is less ugly than it appears from a distance - but no more attractive either.

"'The most interesting implication in this novel is its reference to the clash of civilizations, as well as many aspects of the difference between North and South.' Confirming such ideas to his audience at the Centre, Aswany seemed more excited than ever before: 'Creating the characters was the most difficult part. I used to wake up in the morning and write down the details pertaining to each character separately. For example, if I'm writing about Shaimaa (who is a based on a real person I met while studying in Chicago), I will list her age, the colour of her hair, whether or not she smokes - until I get to the point where I can see her fully embodied before my eyes. So then we I am writing, if I feel confused, I can go back and consult these fully formed creations...' [...]

"In both Yaqoubian and Chicago, explicit sex is frequent and graphic but hardly provocative and never erotic: it is either comic - as in Tarek and Shaimaa's first sexual encounter, or horrific, as in the sexual abuse of detainees and their wives by security forces back home. Still, Aswany's portrayal of Lieutenant Safwat Shakir's behaviour with the wives of political detainees is truly brilliant, reflecting a striking mix of the abuse of power and obsessive lust that informs this type of character. [...]

"'Chicago has sold over 75,000 copies in Egypt since January, but I am getting negative reactions all the time. [...]' Aswany added sadly, [...]. Still, the novel will be adapted for the screen, though Aswany gave no further details. Nor did he reveal what he intends to write about next, and whether, as one audience member prophesied, it would be political corruption in Egypt: 'One day we will all disappear and so will political dictatorships, but the novel will stay. For me, writing a novel is like falling in love with a beautiful woman - you can never tell how and when you will fall in love again.'

Source: Al Ahram Weekly (Egypt), 8-14 November, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Libya to host International Book Fair

"Local, Arab and international publishing houses are scheduled to participate in the 8 th edition of Libya's international book exhibition which opens on 12 November in Tripoli, sources in the Libyan capital said on Monday.

"The sources said the exhibition was aimed at creating Arabic and international interactions through the organization of a cultural and scientific event based on 'the book as a companion to the reader and the learner'. [...]

"The exhibition would have stands for printed and electronic Arabic and foreign books, as well as children's books.

"A cultural event, poetry recitals, cultural conferences, specialized meetings and roundtables to be attended by intellectuals and publishers are some of the highlights of the fair."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

230 books banned in Kuwait

Officials at the books censorship committee issued a decision banning the exhibition of 230 books scheduled to be exhibited at the 32nd Kuwait Book Exhibition which will be inaugurated next Tuesday.
They said that the committee banned the books after reviewing 560 new books but added that they would review the banned books again in order to avoid an expected crisis with the publishing Dars (Houses).

Source: Kuwait Times (Kuwait), November 7, 2007

Tradition keeping Yemeni girls out of school

The number of Yemeni girls whose parents keep them out of school remains scandalously high. Many are unable to complete – or even begin their studies – due to family poverty, which forces families to prevent them from attending school. But it is also due to the influence of tradition, which, in many families, dictates that girls do not deserve an education because they are inherently incapable of learning, whereas it is considered essential for boys.

The situation is at its most severe in Yemen’s rural areas. Some 24 percent of girls in villages are educated, while 69 percent of their male counterparts are educated, according to the Arab Human Development Report for the year 2005-2006. In urban areas, 59 percent of girls are educated, versus 84 percent of boys.
Source: Yemeni Observer (Yemen), November 6, 2007

First Sana’a International Women and Children Book Fair

The first Sana’a International Women and Children Book Fair is a new fair organized by the General Authority for Books, coming in December.

Various local and Arab publishing houses will participate. The GAB recently finished Sana’a’s 24th International Book Fair last week. The success of the fair and its record attendance was the reason for organizing a special exhibition for women and children, according to the GAB. The volume of sales achieved by the 24th International Book Fair is estimated to be nearly YR 1 billion – an increase of 800 million compared to the previous year. There were one million visitors in attendance over the 12 days, with the participation of more than 270 local and foreign publishing houses.

The establishment of a Yemeni Publishers Union was also officially announced. The fair accompanied a number of events organized by the GAB. There were book signings for titles such as Al-Qaeda: Establishment and Intellectual background, Yemen as a model, both by Saeed Ubaid al-Jumjumi and Yemen and the Privacy of Governance, Democracy and Unity by Dr. Abdul-Wahab al-Rawhani.

There was also a signing for a book on Yemeni music and the complete works of Abdullah Abdul-Wahab No’man, known as al-Fadool. The new Sana’a International Women and Children Book Fair will be an annual event to provide books for children and expand their base of knowledge.

Source: Yemen Observer (yemen), November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sales of Used Books Thrive in Riyadh

"Although the culture of used books is new to the Kingdom, many secondhand bookstores are thriving in the capital city. [...]

"Secondhand bookstores contain a large variety of books on many subjects, including religion, medicine, engineering, administration, computer science, history and psychology among many other topics. [...]

"According to a Sudanese man working at one of these shops, the idea to sell secondhand books came from university students advertising used books inside university halls or housing compounds. [...]

"Arab News observed that some rare books, even in Urdu, are on sale in these stores. Books on science and history are found in huge numbers.

"Some secondhand shops register book details on their computer database for the convenience of customers. Book lovers from everywhere — men and women, Saudis and non-Saudis — find these shops to be an enjoyable experience."

Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), November 8, 2007

Algeria Bans Oppositionist's Book At Annual Book Fair

All copies of the new book by journalist Mohamed Benchicou, The Jails of Algiers, were confiscated, and the publisher's booth shut down, at the opening of the annual Algiers book fair.
Cartoon: " Astonishment at the Book Fair in Algiers"
Man: " What? The stand of Benchicou is closed?"
Cartoon by Dilem, published in the Algerian daily Liberté

The book deals, inter alia, with the two years its author spent in prison. Benchicou was tried for bringing foreign currency into the country, but the trial, which was harshly criticized by human rights organizations, was held after he criticized Algerian Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni and published a book on the Algerian president titled Bouteflika: An Algerian Imposter.

The book fair organizers said that his new book was banned for display because the required permit had not been obtained.

Source:, November 3 and 5, 2007

Rachid Boudjedra: Enfant terrible of Algerian Literature awarded

The Algerian novelist and poet Rachid Boudjedra was awarded of the Algerian Prize, Priz des Librairies 2007, in the Palais des Expositions.

The novelist said that he has been awarded worldwide, but it is the first time that his work was awarded in Algeria.

The Algerian Bookshops Association has chosen the Novelist Rachid Boudjedra to be 2007 Prize-winner for his distinguished, outspoken, versatile and controversial books dedicated to the Algerian society.

Source: El Khabar (Algeria), November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Kuwait Book Fair

The 32nd Kuwait Book Fair will be held from Nov 13 to 23 at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Mishref. The book fair will be held under the auspices of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah and will be launched on Nov 13 at 10 am by the Minister of Information Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

The Kuwait Book Fair is the third largest book fair in the Middle East after Cairo and Beirut.

"The Kuwait Book Fair is important for people who are into culture and it is highly attended by Arab writers and publishers. It really is an important event for Kuwait," said Bader Al-Rifai, Secretary General of the NCCAL, during the conference. The Kuwait Book Fair is more than an exhibition as it includes other cultural events as well. "It's a cultural festival which is anticipated by intellectuals and readersevery year. Besides being a huge place for exhibiting and selling books, it is also a social gathering place for likeminded individuals," Al-Rifai added.

There will be 538 publishing houses from 23 countries participating in the fair. 477 publishing houses are privately owned while 55 are publicly owned and six publishing houses are owned by international and Arab organizations. "278 of these publishing houses are participating directly, while 260 of them are participating on behalf of other publishers. The fair will contain 11,891 book titles including 9,995 Arabic books, 713 books in other languages, 837 Arabic books for kids, and 364 books for kids in other languages," noted Sa'ad Al-Mutairi, the fair's general director.This year, there will also be additional activities at the book fair. There will be three symposiums held about the media and about books in Kuwait. In addition to this, an evening devoted to poem recitals will be held.

The fair will have an art exhibition portraying some art work done by 20 female Kuwaiti artists from different schools and it will also include an Arabic heritage exhibition of some original calligraphy and rare copies of the Holy Qur'an.

Source: Kuwait Times (Kuwait)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bin Laden’s book tops the charts at Algiers International Book fair

"'Unveiled Bin Laden' has gone number one in best – selling book list at Algiers International Book fair, according to the 'World Book Company' spokesman, though banned in previous publications.

"The book written by Al Jazeera’s TV presenter, Ahmed Zeidane, is an exhaustive compilation of some of the most prominent world figures who expressed their views on the personality of the most wanted person on earth. The writer confronted in the 215- page- book the opposing positions of both Bin Laden’s fans and opponents.

"The writer starts its 'journey' in Bin Laden’s quest with the first encounter between the man and Abu Othman in 2000 where it was agreed upon the idea of visiting Afghanistan. The first 'Fatwa' for an embargo on US goods was launched at that moment in Bin Laden’s house.

"One of the most striking passage in the book is the one in which the writer describes his meeting with Al Qaeeda’s leader along with London’s 'Al Hayat' reporter on the occasion of his son’s wedding. During this whole day encounter Bin laden talked about the strategy of his movement as well as the best means to spread his ideology worldwide".

Source: Echorouk (Algeria), November 5, 2007

"Afghan publisher arrested for changing the Quran"

"Unofficial translation misinterprets homosexuality and adultery"

"Afghan police have arrested a man accused of publishing an unofficial translation of the Quran that has sparked protests in parts of the country, newspapers said on Monday. [...]

"MP's accused the publisher of misinterpreting the Muslim holy book on many issues including homosexuality and adultery in his translation into Dari, the second most used language in Afghanistan.

"Ghaus Zalmai, the publisher of the translation, was arrested on Sunday trying to cross the border into neighboring Pakistan. Zalmai was also a spokesman for Afghanistan's attorney general. 'This is a plot against the religion of Islam, and no one will ever accept the book as the holy Quran,' daily Armaan newspaper quoted Judge Abdul Salam Azimi as saying. [...]"

Source: Al Arabiya (Saudi-owned, based in Dubai), November 5, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

[News from the Muslim World] Quran translation causes uproar in Afghanistan

"Afghanistan's conservative parliament was in uproar Saturday over a translation of the Quran by a government official they accused of trying to create division among Muslims.

"Parliamentarians accused the official of misinterpreting the Muslim holy book on many issues including homosexuality and adultery in his translation into Dari, the second most used language in Afghanistan. [...]"

Source: Al Arabiya (Saudi-owned, based in Dubai), November 4, 2007

[News from the Muslim world] Rumi remembered in Iran

"Iran has celebrated the 800th birthday of Jalal ad-din Muhammad Rumi, the poet and spiritual leader famous across much of central and western Asia, with a week-long conference in the cities of Tehran, Khoy and Tabriz.
"But scholars say that political pressures and the increasing commercialisation of Sufism, the mystical strand of Islam Rumi so heavily influenced, threaten to overshadow the poet's message of universal love and tolerance. [...]"

Source: Al Jazeera (Qatar), October 28, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

[News from the Muslim world] Iranian Newspaper defends book-cafes against Authority crackdown

"[...] It is important to mention that book-cafes, which are popular in the country, are among the most traditional establishments supported by the councils and bookshops across the world. If book-cafes are popular in the developed countries, do we not deserve to follow their lead? It seems that the cultural officials have taken a wrong route dealing with the artists and scholars. [...]

"We want to ask to the following question to Culture officials: 'What kind of threat does a group of scholars who meet in a book shop to have a scholarly chat or to write and drink a cup of tea, pose to our society? [...]”

Source: E'temad-e Melli (Iran), October 23, 2007

[News from the Muslim World] Iran’s police targets ‘book-cafes’

"Iranian police have ordered shut and sealed several Teheran bookshops which also provide coffee and snacks to readers, because of what one officer termed ‘a clash of professions.’

"‘Based on the (booksellers) union law, owners of one type of business are not allowed to practise two different professions at the same time,’ head of Teheran police information, Colonel Mehdi Ahmadi, told AFP on Saturday. [...]

"Besides offering a pleasant atmosphere for book lovers, the book-cafes in Teheran also hosted cultural events.

"Since April, Iran has been pressing ahead with one of its toughest crackdowns in years, warning women about dressing immodestly, targeting ‘immoral’ cafes and seizing illegal satellite dishes."

Source: AFP

Yemen: Former minister's book criticizes government and opposition

"The former finance minister Saif al-Asali has confirmed that Yemen needs 'immediate comprehensive and reverberant solutions for its economic problems, applying laws and giving priority to human resources development'.

"Al-Asali who held the ministry of finance for a short period and refused to hold the ministry of trade and industry in the latest government reshuffle, has released a book entitled 'My Story with Finance Ministry' in which he has criticized the government institutions, political parties and civil society organizations.

"The book contains notes about the ministry of finance and says that the most prominent problems of the ministry are: the centralization, neglecting the revenues, low transparency, the lack of proper financial planning, the low level of accountability, duality of duties of financial units especially those in-charge of preparing the state’s budget. [...]".

Syria Participates in Sana'a International Book Fair

"Sana'a 24th International Book Fair was opened on Monday here with the participation of more than 270 local and Arab publishing houses including more than 30 Syrian's.

Director of Exhibitions at Ministry of Culture and Head of the Syrian delegation to the Fair Sahar Omran said that the Syrian participation contains nearly 200 titles issued by the ministry. [...]"