18 February, 2009

Leading novelist pulls out of Dubai book festival in protest at gay censorship

"Novelist Margaret Atwood has announced she will not attend the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature in Dubai after organisers decided to ban the launch of a book with a gay character.

The author of The Handmaid's Tale will not be among the more than 60 top authors who are attending the cultural event.

In a letter to organisers she wrote:

"I know you have put an enormous amount of work into it, I can imagine how many difficulties have had to be overcome, and I am very sad about the regrettable turn of events surrounding The Gulf Between Us.

"I was greatly looking forward to the Festival, and to the chance to meet readers there; but, as an International Vice President of PEN — an organisation concerned with the censorship of writers — I cannot be part of the Festival this year.""


more here

21 comments:

Keefieboy said...

It's a shame that this has happened at the same time as the tennis thing and the collapse of Dubai's mega-bubble. You can't open a newspaper in the West these days without seeing an article dissing Dubai.

Keefieboy said...

DJ: who are you talking to?

Sunil said...

quite honestly i am very surprised that we do not see this often. case in point, recently dubai rejected the visa application of two israeli tennis players (we all know dubai's prejudice against jewish). this started an uproar in the tennis world....one would expect this to be a bigger problem....maybe the recent few events have started the much needed spark

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

As far as the Festival is concerned, please see EAIFL's official statements:

http://www.eaifl.com/pr17feb09
http://www.eaifl.com/pr18feb09

Thanks.

Lirun said...

dj

chill out baby..

Anonymous said...

Seriously hope never to meet DJ in a dark alley.

Whats the big deal? This is an Islamic nation. If we lived in a Christian nation that truly lived by the tenents of their belief (not very many of those) then a book with a 'little homo' would also be banned.

I can't even count on all of my fingers and toes the number of things I am technically not supposed to do in the UAE.

What far outnumbers what I can't do in the UAE? The number of things I can do in America, even to the detriment of my neighbor. I can carry a gun, and in some states conceal it. I can shack up, have lots of babies and then take off and have no responsibility or live off welfare. I can view porn on my employers dime all day long. Or maybe I can become president.

I happen to like the structure here, and though I am not muslim, the tenets of Islam are sound and have commonality with the Bible. Seems to me a decent thing.

Its not really censorship - its business and politics. Simple as that. And if you think its censorship, great, then you have a differing opinion and opinions are wonderful and create democracy. Tell me why not why I am wrong, or as DJ said 'don't address me on the message board again.'

Yes, I will be anon - hate flame mail from morons.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

I tend to agree with Isobel Abulhoul, in that this is a publicity stunt by the publisher.

However, I do disagree with the idea that this 'book' would offend the culturally sensitive. Come on! Stop giving stupid little things too much attention already. There are gay people in this world. They are a part of every society.

Sunil, please note that:

jew != israeli

I know that Israel's PR campaign has always tried to blur the two into one (note how the whole Peer issue has been handled). The truth of the matter is, most Arabs don't have a problem with Jews.

Proud Emirati said...

good

bonk said...

Isobel Abulhoul, the Director of EAIFL says "Based on my knowledge of who would appeal to the book-reading community in the Middle East, and having read 150 pages of Ms Bedell’s manuscript I knew that her work could offend certain cultural sensitivities."

How patronising. And offensive to my cultural sensitivities. There are many books and magazines already available in the UAE which could offend certain cultural sensitivities. It's a sign of the UAE's tolerance that they are available. This decision is a step backwards.

Just who would the book offend? A flat earth offshoot that thinks the Iraq war didn't happen? And/or another group that thinks there are no gay people living in the Gulf?

bonk said...

> keefieboy: Tall poppy syndrome. Even The Times and the NY Times can't find facts to back up their agenda of running down Dubai so they make stuff up, repeat incorrect statements, or distort published statistics. That says more about the newspapers than it does about Dubai. The shame about this story is that it does give justifiable ammunition to foreign press that want to diss Dubai.

hemlock said...

*sarcasm* oh no! this is a disaster! what shall we ever do!!! */sarcasm*

margaret who?

samuraisam said...

Dubai Jazz + Lirun: Stop derailing topics with stupid arguments. This is your only warning.

MT said...

**now now hemlock show a little respect to the International Vice President of PEN**

i never really understood this whole freedom of expression funda. im sure they will all come with guns drawn criticizing the censorship of a 'little homo' but no one ever seems to be bothered abt freedom of expression when a person is denying the holocaust.

now now b4 smone starts to give me stats abt the holocaust and how stupid holocaust deniers are, let me assure u im not from that camp. but i don't get how just EXPRESSING DOUBT abt it ever happening is a CRIME in Europe!?!?!?!?!?!

cmon? freedom of expression. maybe the International Vice President of PEN ought to urge closure of all PEN centers in european countries where its a CRIME TO EXPRESS DOUBT ABT THE HOLOCAUST!!!!!

i guess she was just luking for sm cheap publicity for herself by taking such a stupid stand.

bonk said...

Isobel Abulhoul, the Director of EAIFL says "Based on my knowledge of who would appeal to the book-reading community in the Middle East, and having read 150 pages of Ms Bedell’s manuscript I knew that her work could offend certain cultural sensitivities."

How patronising. And offensive to my cultural sensitivities. There are many books and magazines already available in the UAE which could offend certain cultural sensitivities. It's a sign of the UAE's tolerance that they are available. This decision is a step backwards.

Just who would the book offend? A flat earth offshoot that thinks the Iraq war didn't happen? And/or another group that thinks there are no gay people living in the Gulf?

Anonymous said...

Well done Dubai, that really positions yourself as a leading, forward looking city and not like some backward fascist dictatorship.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

This is really weird. Seriously? A gay character in a book that no one would have known about if it wasn't for this? Are they that silly?

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

I know that Israel's PR campaign has always tried to blur the two into one (note how the whole Peer issue has been handled). The truth of the matter is, most Arabs don't have a problem with Jews.

Yep. Infact, I know a Jewish Egyptian guy, working in Abu Dhabi. Yes, there are Jewish Arabs. Get over it.

On the book thing. Dont care, dont want to care, and if he'she doesnt want to be here, then dont be, many book fairs in the world, go sing kumbaya with the other hippies.

Yes, I will be anon - hate flame mail from morons.

*gasp* I think you are maybe the 2nd real christian I've ever met. Pretty refreshing.

Anonymous said...

You people need to get with the program. This is a totalitarian state and if they decide to ban a book or an athlete or New Year's or declare George W. Bush day and ban all traffic from roads they can jolly well do so and don't appreciate any commentary to the contrary and the sooner you understand that the better or you may just see yourselves all put aboard planes and sent out (oh please let it be soon....)

Lirun said...

sam i think that you are slightly overreacting..

do as you please.. i know my comments are not always welcome.. you are at liberty to take measures to prevent or delete them and/or not publish them.. i wouldnt be offended..

i dont feel like i have set out to ever be offensive..

shabbat shalom

Anonymous said...

lol lirun you da apple in every gals eyez here dayam
dayam how do u do it

Anonymous said...

Margaret Atwood has balls...and more sense than you self rightous douches out there, you know who you are

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/feb/21/atwood-dubai-literature-festival

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