RABAT, Morocco: Muslim countries must do more to promote books and reading, the Saudi Press Agency reported one of the world’s largest Islamic organizations as saying.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which was founded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 40 years ago, called on Muslim countries to improve the publishing industry, provide copyright protection, and preserve manuscripts by digitizing them so that current and future generations could benefit from them.
It made the comments ahead of World Book and Copyright Day, a UN event celebrated on April 23.
ISESCO said that knowledge and science in Muslim communities soared when printing was discovered, adding that paper books would remain a pillar of culture and a driver for development because civilization was founded on the discovery of writing.
“The media through which knowledge and sciences were transferred have varied with the advent of the information and communications technology revolution,” ISESCO said. “The world now has digital as well as paper books and, in spite of this great leap achieved by humanity to disseminate knowledge and sciences, there is a critical shortage of reading rates, and a large segment of people lack access to books and intermediate technologies. In addition, certain categories of people, such as the visually impaired, do not benefit from a large number of publications.”
The ISESCO statement mentioned statistics that showed an increase in the proportion of published books compared with previous years, which were characterized by a decline in the sector. ISESCO said the functions of paper and digital books were evenly divided.
But the popularity of books and reading could not hide the difficulties and risks facing the written word, it added. Manuscripts faced destruction and theft in some areas of armed conflict and this phenomenon threatened Islamic culture and history, said ISESCO.
The body said that technology could be used to combat book piracy through practical measures such as standardizing legislation, closing legal loopholes and raising awareness about the dangers of piracy.
ISESCO called on member states to give attention to books and reading as well as people with special needs to help them access books.
Separately, ISESCO and the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (PME) had a meeting on Friday in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World (KSAAEM).
The meeting, held at ISESCO headquarters, was presided over by PME President Khalil bin Musleh Al-Thaqafi and ISESCO Director General, Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri.
The meeting hailed the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the efforts of the PME and ISESCO in the field of environmental protection in the Islamic world, including raising awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging scientific research through KSAAEM.
The two sides highlighted their coordination, consultation and cooperation to achieve common goals. Mohammed Hussein Al-Qahtani, PME’s director general of media and public relations, commended the efforts made in this area and the results, and said there was a need to develop the award’s media plan to expand its outreach.
Dr. Abdelamajid Tribak, from ISESCO’s Directorate of Science and Technology, gave a presentation on the activities of KSAAEM’s General Secretariat.
He said the number of nominees had risen this year compared to the previous year, with 200 entrants from 40 Islamic and non-Islamic countries.