Cairo book fair gleaming new site opens far from historic market

1 / 7
A woman checks a book at the historic Al-Azbakeya book market in Cairo, Egypt January 15, 2019. (Reuters)
2 / 7
A book seller reads a book at Cairo's historic Al-Azbakeya book market at downtown in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
3 / 7
A book seller organizing books at Cairo's Al-Azbakeya book market. (Reuters)
4 / 7
Two men check books at the Al-Azbakeya book market in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
5 / 7
A woman reads through a book at the Al-Azbakeya book market. (Reuters)
6 / 7
A man chooses a book at Cairo's historic Al-Azbakeya book market. (Reuters)
7 / 7
A book seller holds a book at Cairo's historic Al-Azbakeya book market. (Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2019
0

Cairo book fair gleaming new site opens far from historic market

  • President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated the fair’s 50th edition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center
  • Customers flocked to New Cairo to avoid the crowds and squeeze of downtown, while others preferred Azbakeya for its highly competitive prices

CAIRO: The annual Cairo International Book Fair opened this week in a shiny new venue far away, literally and metaphorically, from the city’s historic book souk — and many of the old market’s merchants stayed away.
Marking the prestige of the event, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated the fair’s 50th edition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center in the affluent New Cairo area on the outskirts of the capital.
Back downtown, among the teetering stacks of mostly second-hand tomes at Azbakeya, a book market that dates back more than a century, merchants complained they had been sidelined.
Dozens of them used to exhibit at the fair’s former home in Nasr City, a district easily accessed, including by metro. This year only six were allowed to sell books at the fair after agreeing to stringent conditions.
“We did not cancel the Azbakeya wall, but we set a booklet of conditions to participate in the fair which all publishers committed to,” said Haitham Al-Hajj, head of the General Authority for Books, which organizes the event.
Authorities are keen to prevent the sale of counterfeit books, which were rampant in the Azbakeya section of the fair last year, including best-sellers such as Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Also at issue for the Azbakeya merchants was the cost — around 1,200 Egyptian pounds ($67) — of participating, and rules on how they must display their books — stacking them up in high, disorderly piles is no longer acceptable.
“When people are selling old used books, they have a thousand titles rather than one, so, they are unable to display them in any other way, unlike a publisher. A publisher has probably a hundred titles,” said Harby Hassan, a 63-year-old Azbakeya bookseller.
The Azbakeya merchants announced their own month-long book fair from Jan. 15, competing with the international event that runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 5.
Attendance at both was sizeable.
Customers flocked to New Cairo to avoid the crowds and squeeze of downtown, while others preferred Azbakeya for its highly competitive prices.
($1 = 17.8400 Egyptian pounds)


Palestinian journalist wins appeal over Gaza graft report

Updated 43 min 43 sec ago
0

Palestinian journalist wins appeal over Gaza graft report

  • The appeals court in Gaza “acquitted journalist Hajar Harb of all charges and closed her file”

GAZA CITY: A Palestinian journalist was acquitted on appeal over an investigative report about corruption in the Gaza Strip Monday, according to Amnesty International and a campaign group.

In a 2016 report for Al-Araby TV, Hajar Harb alleged that doctors were writing false medical reports to let people leave Gaza for treatment, one of the few reasons Israel allows Palestinians out of the blockaded strip run by Hamas.

In October that year, two doctors launched legal proceedings accusing her of defamation and “publishing false information,” according to Amnesty International.

The 34-year-old had been sentenced to six months in prison and fined, but the appeals court overruled the decision, said Fathi Sabah, head of a group supporting Harb.

The appeals court in Gaza “acquitted journalist Hajjar Harb of all charges and closed her file,” he said.

“This represents not just a victory for Hajjar but for freedom of the press,” he added.

Amnesty said Harb had been questioned by police at least four times following her report, but welcomed the decision of the court.

“It is really good news that Hajjar Harb was acquitted today, she was standing a trial that should not have taken place to begin with,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“We hope that the Gaza authorities take this opportunity to signal that they are serious about freedom of expression and the press.”

In 2018, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms recorded 77 violations of press freedom in the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank and 37 such cases in Gaza.

Hamas have controlled Gaza for more than a decade and have recently cracked down violently on street protests.