Saudi Book Fair Under Religious Attack

UPI, March 2, 2007

Publishers displaying books at an international book fair in Saudi Arabia are coming under scrutiny and pressure by religious police.

Saudi Arabia’s semi-official Al Watan daily said Thursday the religious police tried to remove exhibited books on love and different religions at the Riyadh International Book Fair that opened Tuesday.

The paper quoted an Egyptian publisher as saying a group of young local men, accompanied by a mutawa, or government-authorized religious police enforcing Islamic law, entered his booth and asked the publisher to remove some books.

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The government last year took away some of the mutawa’s powers, but they remain recognized as religious police enforcing tough Islamic Sharia, or law, in the Islamic Arab kingdom. The mere presence of the report appearing in a semi-official Saudi newspaper indicates growing discontent with the religious police.

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