President Mohamed Morsi inaugurated the 44th Cairo International Book Fair that is due to run until 4 February. The event was hosted by Minister of Culture Saber Arab and was attended by Libyan Minister of Culture Al-Habib Lamin.
During his meeting with publishers that followed the inauguration, Morsi highlighted that a new legislation is required to protect the freedoms stated in the new constitution, affirming that an update of publishing legislation, dating back to 1936, is a priority for the next parliament.
The president called publishers the "knights of this era," highlighting the role of publishing in spreading knowledge. “This generation requires our understanding, so it doesn’t fall prey to hands that seek to disperse it,” underlining in particular the need to “document the revolution.”
Morsi commented on the title of this year’s Cairo Book Fair round, “Debate not Conflict,” stating that it may give the impression that there’s conflict when there is none: “We have various visions on how to cross this phase, and with this diversity we are stronger than before.”
During his speech, Saber Arab highlighted that books are Egypt’s first ambassadors to the world and to the Arab region, and that despite the spread of electronic publishing, the printed book will retain its attraction. He expressed satisfaction that strong attendance at the fair reflects a keenness to support the publishing business, and especially that reading became popular among the youth after the revolution.
The discussion that followed between Morsi and publishers included suggestions by the head of the Egyptian Publishers Association, Assem Shalaby, to establish an industrial city for publishing that would include all print houses and distribution facilities. Morsi requested that publishers submit a study on the proposal.
Morsi finished the event by promising to keep meeting with publishers, indicating that he has already met with authors and writers seven times during the last six months.