Thursday, May 06, 2010

Working together?

I've recently found a very nice blog about Arabic literature in translation. This morning I read a post that exemplifies much of the discussion on the list regarding raising reading in Egypt to an acceptable activity. Reading is not high on the list of things to do to relax here. Most Egyptian students are so traumatised by the school system that they are happy never to read anything more complex than a road sign for the rest of their lives. And there is no culture of parents reading stories to their children in the evening to encourage kids to think that reading can be a pleasurable activity.

Now we have lawyers (do they read for fun?) wanting to sue to have the classic 1001 Arabian Nights and a prize winning novel Azazeel banned for being a bad influence on society and insulting Christians respectively. There is something seriously wrong with people's priorities here. A novel is, after all, just a story. No one ever has claimed one to be fact although many novelists like Salman Rushdie have fallen afoul of critics (many of whom have obviously never read the books) who don't want anything untoward to appear in print.

I would suggest seriously that since 99.9999% of the population here spend a vast amount of time watching television and much less reading that the lawyers start their crusade elsewhere. Can I nominate Sex In The City and/or Desperate Housewives or Weeds as being far more detrimental to public values and probably much more widely viewed than anything in print. Of course that would mean taking up the lances against Orbit Showtime Network which is based in the UAE I believe, that liberal country where giving your wife a peck on the cheek in public can result in police action.

Sometimes life simply is too weird.

copyright 2010 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani


Basbusa's Mama said...

Oh my gosh, so true. A perfect summary of all the conflicting contradictions when it comes to the "values police" and the media.

I think part of the reason that the fuss is always about books is that only 0.01% of the population would even care if books were banned entirely. If the values police went after Orbit, they'd find themselves told to shut up within about four seconds of opening their mouths :)

Candice said...

Egypt is a crazy crazy place! I also don't know any Egyptians who read... My husband is pretty anti-reading but he loooooves TV and internet. It's so true what Basbusa's Mama said that just because it's books, it won't cause an outrage to have them banned. But go try to ban TV, which I agree is SO MUCH worse and that movement will not last a day.

Jojomama said...

Good point about TV.