Cairo International book fair starts slowly

Mohammed Saad , Thursday 24 Jan 2013

Opening day of Cairo International Book Fair sees few visitors, organisers hope January 25 Revolution second anniversary won't deter book-lovers from attending

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Cairo International book Fair

The first day of the 44th Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) on Wednesday was almost empty of visitors. There was a heavy security presence during President Morsi's visit and its seems many people decided to avoid the venue as a result.

Moreover, Cairo was paralysed by protests as Ultras Ahlawy blocked the metro line and Sixth October Bridge. All this comes before expected mass protests to mark the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

The fair will be open but with a reduced programme of activities on 25 January, organisers say.

President Mohammed Morsi inaugurated the fair, ending the controversy over whether he would do so or not. However, he did not meet with intellectuals as former president Hosni Mubarak had done, meeting publishers instead.

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The move sparked anger among intellectuals who described the move as hostile to culture and designed to spare Morsi from their embarrassing questions.

The fair takes place from 23 January until 5 February at the fair ground in Nasr City. Twenty-five countries, including 17 from the Arab world, will take part. Libya is the guest of honour.

The general layout of the fair is unchanged from last year but Sour Al-Azbakeya, the second-hand book market, has been redesigned and housed in a new tent.

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Many publishers were still unpacking their books and putting them on the shelves after the fair opened. Some publishing houses had already displayed their books but they preferred to close down their wings until Thursday.

The state-owned bookshops seemed very popular among the small crowd of visitors on the first day.

Food courts also were not fully open.

There was a heavy security presence compared to last year, which reflects the organiser's safety concerns. The culture ministry insured this year's fair for LE100 million (approx. $16 million).

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The design of the yellow-plated Libyan wing was very simple and elegant. It includes a photo gallery of the victims of former leader Moammar Qaddafi.

The organisers of the gallery told Ahram Online that they had documented more than 3500 martyrs from all over Libya and they were still working with the local authorities to document others.

The organisers placed a picture of Omran Gomaa, who killed Qaddafi, at the gallery’s main desk.

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There were many books on the Arab Spring displayed at the fair, tackling issues like the killing of Qaddafi, the Syrian revolution's democratic transition, the civil state and religion.

Egypt’s State Information Service devoted its entire section to January 25 Revolution anniversary. It includes movies on the revolution and related printed materials.

Cultural and artistic activities are expected to start on Thursday, 24 January.

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