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
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.
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.’