Political literature meets Mr. Tickle at Tehran book fair
Publishers from around the world pack annual literary festival
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
TEHRAN: Scooby Doo, where are you? If you're at Tehran's book fair and looking for something for the kids, you'll find the stand right next to Islamic Jihad's and around the corner from the stands of Hizbullah and Hamas. Iran's massive annual literary fest has something for everyone: Thomas the Tank Engine, interior decorating, Microsoft Windows programming, "How to Kill an Israeli" and Jean-Paul Sartre.
"We have a stand here every year," explained a young man at the Hamas booth, which featured T-shirts emblazoned with the portrait of their late spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, replica suicide bomber headbands and posters featuring mugshots of Palestinians who "blew themselves to bits."
The literary message, explained the Hamas rep, was that "they blow themselves up so others can have a better life."
The man at the Islamic Jihad booth was offering a history of Palestine pamphlet and a rather bloody CD-Rom on "Martyrdom-Seeking Operators."
Publishers from the United States are also represented at the packed book fair at Tehran's sprawling international exhibition center, albeit by their Iranian import agents, and drawing large crowds.
There are also other big names: MacMillan, Routledge, Oxford and Cambridge University Press, Penguin and Taschen.
They offer an array of books on architecture, academia and everything else that made it past the censors. Left out would be books deemed politically incorrect, any atlas that features Israel or any book, artistic or otherwise, that shows any female skin that isn't on the hands or face.
The event, which features books at heavily discounted and state subsidized prices, is hugely popular among young Iranians, who rarely have the chance or the finances to peruse what the international literary world has to offer.
Also represented are the cultural sections of most foreign embassies in Tehran, eager to promote books on anything and everything to do with their countries that made it through Iranian customs.
One stand had a real assault rifle on display. That was the Hizbullah booth - more of a multimedia experience - which was quite unique.
"Captured from the Zionists in Southern Lebanon," explained the movement's rep as he showed off the rusty rifle. "We've had a lot of people coming by, and nearly all our books have sold out after just two days." They may have a hard time competing with the more entertaining books in the foreign publisher section - especially with Britain's Mr. Tickle and the other much-loved Mr. Men stories. - AFP
NICOSIA [MENL] -- The Iranian opposition asserted that the Teheran regime has used Hizbullah to quell Arab unrest near the Iraqi border.
The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization reported that Iranian authorities brought scores of Hizbullah operatives to southeastern Iran to quell Arab riots that began on April 15. The organization said Arabic-speaking Hizbullah fighters attacked protesters in the Khuzestan province in late April.
"The Lebanese Hizbullah -- which is trained in Khuzestan -- appears to have been conscripted into the crackdown," the British-based group said in a statement. "Among those attacking demonstrators were Arabic speakers with distinctly Lebanese accents, according to reports on the ground."
This was the first time that the Iranian opposition reported the use of Hizbullah in quelling unrest in Khuzestan. Hizbullah was said to have been used to combat student demonstrators in 1999 and 2002.