Tunis International Book Fair focuses on religious texts

book tn 260The Tunis International Book Fair kicked off on October, 25 amid the typical challenge of the Arab publishing sector: choosing between the ever-flourishing market for religious texts and risking alternative forays into such areas as international politics.

Dozens of exhibitors are taking part, mostly from Arab countries - with Senegal as country guest of honor this year and a wide variety of religious themes on offer. The Koran, for instance, is showcased in dozens of versions, from microscopic editions contained in small metal cases (used as goodluck charms) to ones that are a bit larger, bound in leather and which can be carried in purses or trouser pockets.

Then there are also the richly illustrated ones with gold and silver inscriptions. Religious texts are thus on display for all budgets and all levels of knowledge, since alongside the official Koran there are some with commentaries by scholars of differing views. The average reader can find it difficult to choose between such a vast range. There are also texts on other religions as seen from an Islamic viewpoint, such as a book that reconstructs the history of the discovery and analysis of the Qumran scrolls. As usual, the Tunis Book Fair also includes European publishers, such as ones from France and Belgium (especially the French-speaking Wallonia), with many texts on the issues of the European Union and globalisation. There are surprises among the shelves, such as small, pugnacious publishing houses that focus mostly on famous people, putting a biography of one of the US's Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - alongside the Iranian politician Hasmemi Rafsanjani, civil rights activist Martin Luther King and Hafez Al-Assad.

The fair serves as a chance for some countries to promote their image abroad. This is the case with Qatar, which has its own stand staffed by smiling youths in freshly pressed white overshirts kindly answering any and all questions put to them - so long as the questions are asked in Arabic, as all other languages have been prohibited. (ANSAmed).




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