Egyptian authorities ban popular history book on Middle East

Mohammed Saad , Monday 13 Aug 2012

Egyptian authorities have slapped an import ban on 'A History of the Modern Middle East' by eminent Canadian academics, without disclosing the reasons

A History of the Modern Middle East
Cover of "A History of the Modern Middle East", by William Cleaveland and Martin Bunton, banned by Egyptian censors for inexplicable reasons

The Egyptian Print Censorship Authority has banned the import of A History of the Modern Middle East by eminent academics William L Cleveland and Martin Bunton, now in its 12th edition.

Khaled Fahmy, chair of history at the American University in Cairo (AUC), said that he received an email from the university informing him that the book he had requested for his modern Arab history course had been banned from entering the country. The short email did not give any reasons for the ban.

The author of All the Pasha's Men said that he has no idea of why the book was banned especially it does not contain anything that is particularly contentious. Fahmy thinks "it's an excellent simple book for the freshmen students of the modern history of the Mideast. I've been using this book for almost 10 years, for its simple smooth presentation of the modern Arab history."

Fahmy expressed dismay at the ban."It's strange how we as a society give the responsibility of the Egyptian National Security to some clerks in the Print Censorship Authority, who prove everyday that they lack the basic knowledge of the priorities of scientific research, as well as their disregard of national security too."

Books that relate in particular to Egyptian military affairs since the 1950s are more likely to be banned than others. Fahmy asserted that the best way to protect national security is by making books available, not banning them.

The Egyptian Print Censorship Authority could not be reached for comment.

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