As Cairo International Book Fair starts today, one Egyptian Bookseller and Publishing House will not be attending. While Khaled Lotfy, co-founder of the Tanmia Bookshop and founder of Tanmia Publishing House, sits in jail serving his five-year sentence, his publishing house has also been excluded from the Fair by the organisers, citing security concerns.
Tanmia was informed of the decision in December. The International Publishers Association contacted the Cairo International Book Fair in early January, urging them to change their position and show solidarity with Tanmia at this challenging time as Khaled Lotfy’s final appeal against his five-year prison sentence had been rejected.
Cairo International Book Fair is the major Egyptian publishing industry event of the year and as a fair open to the general public it is also a key sales moment for Egyptian publishers.
Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: It is so disappointing to see that Cairo International Book Fair is unable to show its support for Khaled Lotfy by giving his publishing house a stand at the fair. I repeat my call for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to grant Khaled Lotfy a Presidential Pardon and encourage publishers and booksellers worldwide to show their support for Khaled.
Tanmia Bookshop opened in 2011 and later launched a highly respected publishing house. The publishing house brought out a number of acclaimed authors in translation as well as original works in Arabic, including a children’s book version of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Think of Others,” which won an Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature.
About The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel
The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel was written by Israeli author Uri Bar Joseph and profiles Ashraf Marwan – former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s son-in-law and a close advisor to former President Anwar Sadat – and alleges that he spied on Egypt for Israel. Egyptian authorities have long denied claims that Marwan betrayed his country and hail him as a hero, with former President Hosni Mubarak issuing a statement upon his death in 2007 saying, “I do not doubt his loyalty.”
The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the world’s largest federation of publishers associations with 83 members in 69 countries. Established in 1896, the IPA is an industry body with a human rights mandate. The IPA’s mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness of publishing as a force for economic, cultural and social development. Working in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and numerous international NGOs, the IPA champions the interests of book and journal publishing at national and supranational level. Internationally, the IPA actively opposes censorship and promotes copyright, freedom to publish (including through the IPA Prix Voltaire), and literacy.
About the Prix Voltaire
The IPA Prix Voltaire is unique in honouring the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assume the same risks as the writers themselves.
Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.
The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.
The sponsors of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:
- Albert Bonniers Förlag(Sweden)
- Bonnier Media Deutschland(Germany)
- Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels(Germany)
- Cappelen Damm(Norway)
- Holtzbrinck Publishing Group(Germany)
- Natur & Kultur(Sweden)
- Verlagsgruppe Random House(Germany)