Saudi Arabia reportedly banned hundreds of books and confiscated them from a Riyadh book fair including books by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and other prominent Palestinians.

Organizers of the Riyadh International Book Fair announced before the event began that books deemed "against Islam or "undermining security" in the country would be removed from the event, AFP reported.

The local newspaper Okaz reported Sunday that organizers of fair which began on March 4, had confiscated "more than 10,000 copies of 420 books" from the event, according to the report.

Another Saudi media outlet Sabq.org reported that the country's religious police protested passages of Darwish's work saying they contained "blasphemous passages" and that they pressured organizers to remove all of the poet's books from the fair, AFP said. 

In addition the works of Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso and of the Arab Israeli MK in exile Azmi Bishara were also reportedly banned.   

A Saudi activist Aziza Yousef reportedly said the state action offered "free advertising to those whose books were banned" as many "rushed to download these works from the Internet."

In May The Jerusalem Post reported that the kingdom had banned access to its website www.jpost.com.







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