Arrivederci Da Vinci
According to a friend of mine, the Arabic edition of Dan Brown's international bestseller 'The Da Vinci Code' is , hold on to your seats, banned in Egypt!! (The English one is still in circulation)
Despite the fact that he is a good friend and all, I didn't take his word for it, and I asked around. What I found out was really shocking.
The book was on sale approximately 6 months ago, but only a month ago (when the Cairo International Book Fair started) the Arabic edition vanished into thin air. People asking for it in the fair were either told that it was sold out (a highly unlikely state for a book in Egypt) or were given the book in the most secretive manner (a la buying pot in the park).
Trying to figure out the state of the book today, my friend called Diwan (a bookstore in Zamalek), which informed him that the book is banned and cannot be pre-ordered (something which they did with Naguieb Mahfouz's Children of the Alley which was banned as well). The shop assistants at Madboly, and Shoroq downtown were both highly suspicious of the guy when he went there, and told him that the book was banned after a lot of nagging on his side.
Now, I don't know who is behind this ban. It could possibly be the Coptic Church, which, naturally, will have a lot of issues with Dan Brown's interpretation of the history of Christianity.
Whoever motivating this ban, the Egyptian government has demonstrated once again how easily it can be pushed around by extremists on all sides.
I wouldn't even bother going through the freedom of speech routine. I guess by now you all know the drill. But I have a quote to sum up the thing. I know I keep quoting a lot of movies these days, but this one seems really appropriate. When Averroès' books are caught by Catholic soldiers at a river on the border of Andalusia in the movie Destiny (Al-Massir), a Muslim turncoat grabs them, and says in a sarcastic tone: "Smuggled books! What a dismantled State!!"
Nazif, this one is for you!