Art And Culture

Iran ‘Sorely Missed’ at Frankfurt Book Fair

Iran ‘Sorely Missed’  at Frankfurt Book FairIran ‘Sorely Missed’  at Frankfurt Book Fair

Iran’s absence at the 67th Frankfurt Book Fair this year has drawn wide attention from among some of the 7,000 exhibitors at the world’s largest book exhibition.

Iran boycotted the fair due to the presence of apostate British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie.

An Italian literary agent, Fabrizio Mennitti expressing “deep sadness” at Iran’s absence at the book fair in the southern German city, blamed the exhibition organizers “of trying to hype the event by inviting Rushdie to the opening as guest speaker,” reports IRNA from Berlin.

“I really don’t have any explanation as to why someone would invite a highly controversial person like Rushdie to the book fair - knowing Iran and many other Islamic countries would have problems with his presence - other than wanting to promote the event,” Mennitti said.

“Tehran’s absence at the book exhibition has hurt foreign publishing firms that wanted to conduct business deals with the Iranian side,” he added.

Mennitti’s statements were echoed by a German student.

“I am not a trade visitor but just a regular visitor who is very much interested in Middle Eastern, notably Persian, literature,” said Sabine Krause who traveled more than 200 km to visit the Frankfurt book fair.

“I am not a political person and I don’t understand global politics very much. All I know is that I really wanted to visit the Iranian hall and spent a lot of money - which I don’t have - to be here and now I see nothing but a giant empty hall,” Krause added.

She stressed that although she generally supports freedom of expression, this did not mean one should hurt the religious feelings of other people.

“I have several Muslim and Jewish friends who are very dear to me, and I would never want to hurt their religious sentiments. Just the opposite, I am always showing my utmost respect for their religion,” Krause said.


Meanwhile, a high-ranking source in the FBF organizing team told IRNA she was “also deeply disappointed over Iran’s absence because of Rushdie’s presence.”

“We tried really hard to get Iran to come to the fair but talks collapsed at the last moment. Iran has always been at the exhibition and it is now sorely missed. Perhaps we can learn from this unfortunate episode and move on and hopefully greet Iran at next year’s book fair.”

A German publisher, speaking on condition of anonymity, also expressed deep regret.

“When you walk through Hall 4 where Iran was supposed to showcase its literary works, you can literally feel the emptiness. A country like Iran with its very rich Islamic and Iranian culture should be here,” said the publisher who is familiar with the Iranian publication scene.”

“I can hardly fathom that Iran is not here this year. I also understand Iran’s viewpoint, since Rushdie’s book ‘Satanic Verses’ was deemed insulting to not only Iranian Muslims but Muslims around the world, he added.

There are literally thousands of writers and authors around the world defending freedom of expression. Was it really necessary to invite such a highly controversial person (Rushdie),” he asked.