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Government seizes books at international book fair

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo on March 28, 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announced today that it has obtained a list of books that were banned from distribution at the Muscat International Book Fair, which ended this month.

ANHRI had hoped that the Omani government would take a step forward at the 2010 book fair by lifting the ban or showing some tolerance towards these books; instead, ANHRI was surprised to learn that more titles were seized. Among the confiscated books were:

- "Hadd Al-Shouf" ("The Extent of Vision"), stories by Salim Al-Towaih
- "Abaad min Zanzibar" ("Beyond Zanzibar"), a book of poetry by Mohammed Al-Harthy
- "Al-Wakhz", ("The Prick") a novel by Hussein Al-Abry
- "Christianisation campaigns in Oman and the contemporary relationship between Christianity and Islam", by Suleiman al-Husseini
- "Mofakarat Al Gawari wa Al Ghelman" ("Boasting maidens and boys"), by Al-Gahiz
- "Tribes on the eve of the English coup in Salalah", by Ahmed Al-Zubaidi
- "The Poetry of Abu Muslim Albahlani", a study by Mohammed Al-Harthy
- "When Kazina shook dust off her night gown" and "White birds, black birds", two story books by Mohamed Al-Yahyai
- "The proof of honey", a novel by Salwa Al-Naimi
- "The farce of the human mind", by Ali Al-Wardi
- "Mohamed: The character", a study by Maarouf Al Rusafi

In addition, ANHRI has learned the names of three Omani writers and journalists listed on what is known as the government "black list", which includes writers and journalists who are allowed no media access. Their writings are also regularly obscured. The writers are: Mohamed Al-Yahyai, author and journalist; Mohamed Al-Harthy, writer and poet; and Abdullah Al-Riyami, poet and human rights activist.

"The Omani government should be aware that this type of control will no longer work. A book seeker is bound to find it, especially in this era of information revolution. The continued monitoring, controlling and confiscating of books will only result in the Omani government being criticised for its hostility to freedom of expression, which we hope can be avoided by allowing the circulation of books and ideas," said ANHRI.

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