Bodour voices con­cern over free­dom of pub­lish­ing

Free­dom to pub­lish is not a se­ri­ous mat­ter for us just as pub­lish­ers, but also as hu­man be­ings. And this is why I be­lieve it is im­por­tant to keep this con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, says Bodour

The Gulf Today - - HOME - BY A STAFF RE­PORTER

SHARJAH: Sheikha Bodour Bint Sul­tan Al Qasimi, Founder and Pres­i­dent of Emirates Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (EPA), said that in re­cent years, as pub­lish­ers, read­ers and so­ci­eties at large are en­gag­ing more fre­quently in con­ver­sa­tions about the free­dom to pub­lish, con­tem­po­rary threats to free­dom of pub­lish­ing are more ag­gra­vated than ever, and have gone as far as per­sonal, life-threat­en­ing at­tacks on pub­lish­ing pro­fes­sion­als and jour­nal­ists around the world.

The panel dis­cus­sion was or­gan­ised by EPA with the sup­port of the Na­tional Me­dia Coun­cil (NMC).

Sheikha Bodour has brought an im­por­tant is­sue to dis­cus­sion and shed light on pos­si­ble so­lu­tions at the eighth edi­tion of the Sharjah In­ter­na­tional Book Fair Pub­lisher’s Con­fer­ence, cur­rently un­der way in Sharjah.

In­tro­duc­ing the panel dis­cus­sion ti­tled ‘Free­dom to Pub­lish in Peril: A View from the Front­lines’ Sheikha Bodour said: “Free­dom to pub­lish is not a se­ri­ous mat­ter for us just as pub­lish­ers, but also as hu­man be­ings. And this this why I be­lieve it is im­por­tant to keep this con­ver­sa­tion go­ing.”

With guest pan­el­lists, Kris­tenn Ei­nars­son, Chair of In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (IPA)’S Free­dom to Pub­lish Com­mit­tee; Dr Razia Rah­man Jolly, widow of In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Spe­cial Award Win­ner Faisal Arein Di­pan and Azadeh Parsapour, Voltaire Prize nom­i­nee and win­ner of the Jeri Laber Award, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Pub­lish­ers In­ter­na­tional Free­dom to Pub­lish Prize, the ses­sion ex­plored the sub­ject of free­dom to pub­lish from dif­fer­ent an­gles in or­der to un­der­stand where the in­dus­try stands glob­ally within its con­text.

Sheikha Bodour said that while we have seen sev­eral move­ments involving pub­lish­ers and in­dus­try stake­hold­ers who are strongly ad­vo­cat­ing for the free­dom to pub­lish, there have been sev­eral cases of them be­ing at­tacked and ter­rorised.

STATUS QUO

The EPA Pres­i­dent turned to the pan­el­lists, her ques­tions re­volved around what can be done to al­le­vi­ate the status quo and for free­dom to pub­lish to be­come more common, what can be done to help writ­ers and pub­lish­ers who face sev­eral dangers, and what in their opin­ion can be done to stop this from hap­pen­ing.

“Where are we to­day? Can you please shed some light on the state of free­dom to pub­lish on the global level?” Sheikha Bodour asked Kris­tenn, who has been per­son­ally in­volved in com­bat­ing cen­sor­ship and ad­vo­cat­ing for the free­dom of pub­lish­ers around the world to pub­lish through the IPA.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion by Sheikha Bodour about the state of free­dom to pub­lish on the global level, Kris­tenn said: “Chal­lenges are greater than ever. Over the last three decades ra­cial, so­cial and com­mer­cial groups have been us­ing the in­ter­net and other tools to sup­press free­dom of pub­lish­ing. Many state regimes are try­ing to do the same. Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions too are facing di­fi­cul­ties pub­lish­ing a lot of con­tent.”

To Razia Rah­man Jolly, who lost her hus­band, award-win­ning pub­lisher, Faisal Arein Di­pan to a bru­tal at­tack by Bangladeshi ex­trem­ists in 2015, and has com­pletely ded­i­cated her­self to the global ight for free­dom to pub­lish, Jolly said: “My hus­band stud­ied eco­nomics, while I stud­ied medicine. His love for books led him to the pub­lish­ing sec­tor. He was mur­dered sim­ply be­cause he was sup­port­ing a re­li­gious cri­tique by an Amer­i­can au­thor. While I con­tinue his legacy and pay my re­spects to him, I do so know­ing that my fam­ily is un­der po­lice pro­tec­tion.

“In Bangladesh, pub­lish­ers are still fear­ful of pub­lish­ing freely as they con­tinue to be at­tacked by rad­i­cal groups and non-think­ing in­di­vid­u­als,” she added.

Of­fer­ing her in­sights about the topic at hand, Azadeh pre­sented an over­view of the status of pub­lish­ing in Iran and re­counted ma­jor chal­lenges, in­clud­ing that an en­tity in the coun­try re­views the ma­te­rial some­one wants to pub­lish, and pub­lish­ers are to ac­cept the re­quests of changes if they need the work ap­proved for pub­lish­ing.

Sheikha Bodour in­ter­acts with pan­el­lists dur­ing the dis­cus­sion ti­tled ‘Free­dom to Pub­lish in Peril: A View from the Front­lines.’

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