U.S. Embassy closes booth at Cairo Intl Book Fair over antisemitism claims

Considered the most important event in the Arabic publishing world, the Cairo International Book Fair drew a crowd of over 2 million and publishers from over 27 countries last year.

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February 6, 2019 19:36
1 minute read.
A woman reads a book inside the 49th Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt February 1, 2018

A woman reads a book inside the 49th Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt February 1, 2018. (photo credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH / REUTERS)

The United States Embassy closed its booth at the Cairo International Book Fair due to the presence of antisemitic materials, the Simon Wiesenthal Center reported on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the Jerusalem-based center reported that staples of antisemitic literature were featured in the Egyptian stand at the 2019 Cairo International Book Fair, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Henry Ford’s International Jew and Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Thomas H. Goldberger responded to the Wiesenthal Center exposé by deciding to close the US booth in protest.

“I immediately contacted the Egyptian government on the phone and in writing to protest the presence of antisemitic materials at the Cairo International Book Fair,” wrote Goldberger in a statement, “and to demand that it take immediate action to remove the materials.”

Considered the most important event in the Arabic publishing world, last year’s book fair drew a crowd of over two million attendees as well as publishers from over 27 countries, according to the London-based newspaper Asharw Al-Awsat.

This year’s fair will take place from January 23 until February 10, with over 700 publishers and the Arab League as the guest of honor.

In the past years, the fair has been in the spotlight because of the confiscation of books by the Egyptian police that are written by authors considered controversial in the Arab world – such as Mohamed Choukri, Hanan al-Sheikh and Elias Khoury – and for the arrest of journalists accused of spreading propaganda against the government.

In an open letter to Egyptian Culture Minister Abdel-Dayemm, Wiesenthal Center director for international relations Dr. Shimon Samuels said that “ to incite hatred against Jews” at a time when Israel and Egypt are working together to fight terrorism is “undermining [Egyptian] President el-Sisi’s operational policy.”

“We await similar reactions following the American example, from the French, British and Egyptian authorities,” Samuels added.


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