Censorship blights Muscat Book Fair yet again

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The Muscat International Book Fair has once again seen numerous books banned and impounded – most of them, and the most significant of them, by Omani authors. As far as we can gather from what Omani intellectuals and writers are saying online, a total of 30 books, fiction and non-fiction, fell foul of the censors this year:

Three books by the late Omani writer Ahmed al-Zubaidi:

– Nabsh al-Dhakira (Searching the memory)

– Al-Intima’ (Al-Nabi al-Omani Younus) (Belonging (the Omani prophet Jonah))

– Intihar Obaid al-Omani (The suicide of Obaid al-Omani)

Four books by writer and activist Said al-Hashimi:

– Wal-Shajar Idha Hawa (And if the trees should fall)

– Obaid al-Omani Hayya (Obaid al-Omani alive) (in partnership with Sulaiman al-Maamari)

-Ma Qaltho Alzenzana Lelwarda (What the cell told to the rose)

-Tawibat Althel (The Shadow song)

Iraqi Writer Abdrazaq Aljobran (4 Books).

Two books by writer and journalist Sulaiman al-Maamari:

– Alladhi La Yuhibb Gamal Abdel Nasser (The one who doesn’t like Gamal Abdel Nasser)

– Obaid al-Omani Hayya (Obaid al-Omani alive) (in partnership with Said al-Hashimi)

Two books by writer and former managing editor of the newspaper Azamn, shut down by the government in 2017, Youssef al-Hajj:

– Shita’ ’97 (Winter of ’97); Al-Rawla (Al-Rawla)

Two books by writer and activist Mohammed al-Fazari:

– Khitab Bayn Ghiyabat al-Qabr (A speech between absences of the grave); and

– Al-La-Yaqin (Uncertainty)

One book by writer Saud al-Zadjali:

– Tabrir al-Siyasa bil-Din (Justifying policy by means of religion)

A book by activist Habiba al-Hinaiya:

– Hara’ir al-Rabee’ (Heroines of the Spring)

A book by writer Bassam Ali:

– Uzlat al-Ra’iy (The solitude of the spectator)

A book by writer Zaher al-Mahrouqi:

– Al-Khaleej fi Zaman al-Cholera (The Gulf in the time of cholera)

A book by writer Hamoud al-Shukaili:

– Sarkha Wahida La Takfi (One cry is not enough)

One book by writer and activist Nabhan al-Hanashi:

– Imra’a Tad-hak fi Ghair Awaniha (A woman laughs at the wrong moment)

One book by writer Mohammed al-Yahyai:

– Hawdh al-Shahwat (The basin of desires)

One book by writer Mohammed Saif al-Rahbi:

– Ahamm al-Ightiyalat al-Damawiya fil-Tarikh al-Islami (The most significant bloody assassinations in Islamic history)

Omani writer Zaher Alsyabi (One Book).

Salem Hameed, Iraqi novelist, (One Book).

Haider Haider, Syrian novelist, (one book).

David Bass, American writer, (one book).


The Omani Centre for Human Rights would like to point out that the number of books that have been banned and impounded is probably greater than the number given; and also that some publishing houses have given up participating in the Book Fair after the way they have been treated by the Omani Information Ministry and the Muscat Book Fair’s management team on previous occasions. OCHR was disappointed to see that the organisers of the Paris International Book Fair signed an agreement in July 2018 for the Omani Information Ministry to be a guest of honour at the Paris Fair, despite its history of repeatedly banning and seizing books from the Muscat event.