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Algeria: Bloggers Denounce the Exclusion of Egypt from the Algiers Book Fair

Logo of the Algiers Book Fair (SILA): http://www.sila.dz/

The decision to exclude Egyptian authors for Salon international du livre d’Alger (SILA) (Algiers Book Fair) did not sit well  with many Algerians. In a public announcement last week,  a few online citizens from all social categories denounced the decision by SILA board members to prohibit Egyptian books from being shown at the upcoming event [fr]:

Le commissaire a invoqué, en guise de justification, la campagne haineuse menée contre l’Algérie par certains médias égyptiens ainsi que le mauvais traitement subi par des citoyens algériens lors de la rencontre, au Caire, entre l’Équipe nationale de football et son homologue égyptienne.
À notre avis, il s’agit bien d’un chauvinisme délirant qui révèle, en fait, le peu d’égard que le livre en particulier et la culture en général ont toujours eu dans notre pays et une propension de certains de nos responsables à dénoncer au lieu d’éduquer

The board justified the decision by mentioning that after the match in Cairo between the Egyptian and Algerian teams, Egyptian media led a “hateful campaign” against Algeria and that Algerian citizens were mistreated.
In our opinion, this is a case of chauvinistic hysteria that reveals the little consideration given to books and culture in general in out country and a propension by some of our leaders to blame instead of educate.

Blogger R.Z offers  the following opinion [fr]:

Ceux qui ont décidé ce blocus sur le livre égyptien, ne peuvent être que victimes d'une overdose d'excès de zèle et d'un nationalisme à un sou et qui pue l'allégeance…. » Et d’ajouter : «Pour l'instant, et sans diminuer de la valeur de nos illustres écrivains (Kateb Yacine et Assia Djebar), le seul homme de lettres arabe à avoir inscrit son pays au Nobel de littérature, c'est Najib Mahfoud. Bon, il se trouve que c'est un égyptien, ce n'est pas de sa faute. On ne choisit pas sa nationalité. Il le méritait. Pas pour sa nationalité mais juste pour son talent».

Those who decided in favor of this blockade on Egyptian books must be suffering from a case of overdose of zeal and cheap populist nationalism. He adds: So far, and without diminishing the greatness of our writers (Kateb Yacine and Assia Djebar), the only author of Arabic literature to have been granted a Nobel Prize of Literature is Najib Mahfouz. So he is Egyptian, nobody is perfect. No one choses its nationality. He deserved his award, not because of his nationality but his talent.

In a reaction to the decision, Algerian blogger Adel regrets the origin of this development [fr]:

à chaque fois qu’il y a un problème dans nos pays arriérés, il faut que le pouvoir s’immisce. Si Bouteflika avait laissé les instances du football algérien régler le problème après le caillassage du bus et pas dit oui à la poursuite du match, le problème aurait été résolu aux niveaux des fédérations. Fierté algérienne mal placée jusqu’où tu nous mèneras ?

Every time that there is a problem in our backwards country, the authorities think that they have to butt in. Had Bouteflika let the Algerian football federation take care of the problem after the stoning of the bus and not agree to proceeding of the match, the problem could have been resolved between the federations. Misplaced Algerian pride, where will you lead us this time around?

While awaiting for Algerian authority's reactions, Ahmed Bensaada also published on his blog another list of a dozen of Algerians who signed a petition denouncing the sanction against Egyptian writers.

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