|Ministry of Interior in Gaza Confiscates Copies of Novels Claiming Their Violation Islamic Shari'a|
|Wednesday, 26 January 2011 09:20|
On Sunday, 23 January 2011, the police General Investigation Bureau (GIB) in Gaza City confiscated copies of two novels: "Chicago" and "Banquet for Seaweed." The confiscation was based on a decision issued by the Ministry of Interior. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces and calls for stopping these measures, which violate the right to freedom of opinion, expression and circulation ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:30 on Sunday, 23 January 2011, 4 persons, one of whom was wearing military uniform, who introduced themselves as members of the GIB, confiscated copies of two novels – Alaa al-Aswany's "Chicago" and Haidar Haidar's "Banquet for Seaweed" – from Ibn Khaldoun bookstore opposite to al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City. The GIB members presented a decision issued by the Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip ordering confiscation of a number of novels, including the aforementioned ones. They also informed the owner of the bookstore to refer to al-Abbas police station to obtain a document proving the confiscation of the two novels. They further claimed that the two novels violate the Islamic Shari'a (Islamic Law).
At the same time, 3 persons wearing civilian clothes, went to al-Shorouq bookstore. They introduced themselves as members of the GIB and presented an order issued by the Ministry of Interior ordering confiscation of 3 novels: "Chicago;" "Banquet for Seaweed;" and "Forbidden Pleasure." They confiscated copies of the first two novels as the third one was not available in the bookshop. They also informed the owner of the bookstore to refer to al-Abbas police station to obtain a document proving the confiscation of the two novels.
Earlier, two persons wearing civilian clothes, who introduced themselves as members of the Internal Security Service, went to Sameer Mansour bookstore opposite to the Islamic University in Jamal Abdul Nasser Street in the west of Gaza City. They requested an employee to show them the two novels - "Chicago" and "Banquet for Seaweed." When the employee showed them copies of the two novels, they ordered him not to sell them until necessary measures are taken with regard to them.
Major Ayman al-Batniji, spokesman of the Palestinian police, told a PCHR field worker in a phone call on Monday, 24 January 2011, that he had no information about such measures, but he digressed claiming that these novels violate the Islamic Shari'a.
PCHR strongly condemns the confiscation of copies of novels by GIB members, and:
1) Demands stopping the confiscation of copies of novels from bookstores in order to maintain the right to freedom of opinion, expression and circulation.
2) Stresses that the Palestinian Basic Law ensures the right to freedom of opinion, expression and publication, as its Article 19 provides that "Freedom of opinion may not be prejudiced. Every person shall have the right to express his opinion and to circulate it orally, in writing or in any form of expression or art, with due consideration to the provisions of the law;" and Article 27(2) provides that "Freedom of audio, visual, and written media, as well as freedom to print, publish, distribute and transmit, together with the freedom of individuals working in this field, shall be guaranteed by this Basic Law and other related laws."
3) Expresses deep concerns over the confiscation of books from the market, which if continued to be applied, will not be limited to the claim of violation of the Islamic Shari'a, but will escalate to include confiscation on numerous political grounds.
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