Officials responsible for organising next week’s international book fair have denied reports that religious trends will dominate.
“We're responsible for representing all factions of Egyptian society. Religious trends will not be represented at Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), as they are represented in parliament,” said Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO), at a press conference.
Megahed said the fair will be open to the public from the first day, unlike in past years when the organisation would devote the first day to former president Hosni Mubarak.
“The fair will be opening on Sunday, 22 January, and will be closed on 25 to 26 January to allow people to participate in the celebrations of the first anniversary of the January 25 revolution. The fair will be resumed on 27 January,” Megahed explained.
“I don't think there will be turmoil during the celebrations, so I do not expect there will be any need to close the fair before its fixed date on 7 February.”
The fair will host celebrated Egyptian writers such as economists Galal Amin, Samir Amin, and Hazem Beblawi; Islamic philosophy professor Hassan Hanfi; Judge Tariq El-Bishri; and writer Sayyid Yassin. Famous writer and journalist Mohammed Hassanien Haikal declined an invitation to attend.
Megahed has also announced that GEBO has established a new prize for the best ten books of 2011 in ten fields, including novels, short stories, sciences, human sciences, arts and politics, each worth LE10,000 (approx. $1,655).
This year’s programme saw a slight change, to include an exhibition of plastic arts, in cooperation with the Revolution's Artists’ Coalition. Novels and poetry will be the main topics of this year's programme, in addition to the main theme: “One year of the January 25 Revolution.”
In the same vein, Mohammed Rashad, head of the Egyptian Publishers’ Union, defended the union's decisions to prevent any publishing house that is not a member from participating in the fair. Rashad said this was a rule to regulate the publishing industry.
“It's not our decisions; it's the law that protects publishing industry from being destroyed by intruders and amateurs,” he commented.
“We're optimistic that Arab publishers are very eager to participate in the 43rd International Cairo Book Fair,” Rashad said. “I called the prime minister to exempt the GEBO from the rent fees of the premises on which the fair will be held, and this will help the GEBO to support publishers. We are still affected by the recess cause by the cancellation of the fair last year.”