Saudi bans books at fair in wide-ranging crackdown

A man shows a book by Saudi writer and poet Mohamed al-Rotayyan during the Riyadh Book Fair at the International Exhibition Center in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish, as part of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom.

Saudi Arabia clamped down on dissent following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, from which it has been largely spared, and has adopted an increasingly confrontational stance towards the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups it has long viewed as a threat to its security.

The local Okaz daily reported Sunday that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated “more than 10,000 copies of 420 books” during the exhibition.
The fair’s organising committee also banned a book entitled “When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car?” by Abdullah al-Alami, the Saudi Gazette daily reported.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women, forced to cover in public from head to toe, are not allowed to drive.

Other banned books include “The History of Hijab” and “Feminism in Islam.”