Art And Culture

Authors, Publishers Need Voice, Freedom, Security

Authors, Publishers Need Voice, Freedom, Security Authors, Publishers Need Voice, Freedom, Security

President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday reiterated his stance that government must not interfere in everything and said the time has come “to provide freedom and security to Iranian authors and give publishers space to compete and flourish.”

He made the remarks at the inauguration of the 29th Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) at its new venue at Sun City Exhibition Complex in south Tehran.

“We need to create and promote an atmosphere that is conducive to a scholar’s mind and experience; when an author decides to write, he/she should not be distracted by thinking about the hundreds of regulatory bodies,” Rouhani said, Mehr News Agency reported.

Referring to the words of the Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who on Monday had said “do not be offended by those who criticize,” Rouhani said, “Critics should not be arrested and imprisoned, critics are a blessing. Of course there should be no lies and slander in the guise of criticism. Those who criticize justifiably should not face problems in writing and expressing their views and opinion.”

The government should stick to policymaking, programming and monitoring the implementation process, but the people should also play an active role in statecraft, he said.

He pointed to the role of books and culture as the country’s soft power and a means of communication to reach out to other nations. “Books give us peace and tranquility and provide comfort. A nation that is intimate with books has higher analytical skills and can reflect deeper on issues,” the president stated.

“Art and culture can help create jobs and improve production in all related fields and we should also pay attention to the economics of art and culture as culture is our greatest international asset.”

Speaking on the new location of the annual book fair, he said the venue serves as (important) infrastructure for Iran, a space to exhibit local and foreign products and build bridges with the comity of nations.

Sun City Exhibition Complex is set to host the TIBF permanently after it was held for several years in two venues within Tehran creating immense problems for all those living in the vicinity of the fairs and for the millions of commuters.

 Economics of Art, Culture

Rouhani was of the opinion that even after centuries, many nations in the world know Iran through its literati and scholars such as Hafez, Ferdowsi, Avicenna, Razi and Farabi (Alpharabius).

“Economy does not mean only industry, corporations, banking and insurance services; cultural components and their related segments comprise a creative market which can be economically significant for the people,” he said.

He gave the example of book writing and movies in the past which created several jobs on the sidelines. A book was written and dozens of calligraphers copied from it, so the paper industry moved on. Further, movie theaters were founded when cinema emerged. Paintings are shown in exhibitions and sold in auctions, all adding to employment and contributing to economic growth.

 Culture a High Priority

He called books and culture “essential elements in driving Iran to its final destination in the post-JCPOA era simply because the main goal is not only about economics and politics.”

He was referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear deal signed between Iran and the six world powers in July 2015 and put in practice this January. Calling it a new page in Iran’s history Rouhani strongly supported the landmark deal. “Our world today is quite different from the one before the JCPOA”.

Stating that the deal was a significant event in Iran’s contemporary history as the country managed to achieve success in very complex negotiations with the world powers, he noted that in negotiations usually one side wins and the other fails. “But the talks leading to the (nuclear) deal was in favor of Iran, the other side and the world at large. It was indeed a win-win situation.”

The huge number of foreign companies showing interest to work in Iran, visits by top foreign heads of state and government and foreign investment, are signs of the success of the negotiations, beneficial to all, he told the gathering also attended by the Tehran-based diplomatic corps.

“Today, the world has full confidence in Iran. I think what is important is the global trust and (at the home front) the confidence between the government and the people. Trust is a social capital for the country and an international asset in the world,” the president underlined.

 Honorary Guest

Russia is the special guest of this year’s edition. Mikhail Shvydkoi, the Russian president’s special representative for international cultural cooperation who attended the opening ceremony, appreciated the organizers for inviting Russian authors and publishers.

“Persian language has revealed great truths for not only Iranians but for the world. Classical Persian poetry has informed the world of facts that count for the achievements of humanity,” he said.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati said, “Books enter the market based on their quality and public demand. The TIBF is the most important platform to supply knowledge, science and innovation and the major source of supporting and enriching the libraries and universities.”

Pointing to the assessment of books before their publication he said, “Books are evaluated for form and content; not only foreign titles but also local ones are evaluated.”

He named Iranian poets Mawlana and Khayyam and scholar Avicenna as figures well known in the world whose works are read by people of all ages in Russia.

 Biggest Exhibition Complex

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf also took part in the event as it was the official opening of the Sun City as well. “With a space of over 270 hectares, the Sun City is the biggest exhibition center in southwest Asia and one of the biggest in the world,” he said.

As the biggest economic infrastructure in the field of exhibition industry in the country, the TIBF is being held in the first phase of the complex, covering an area of 65,000 sq m.

A total of 2,400 local and 300 foreign publishers will present their titles to book fans during the 10-day event.

The international section of the fair presents over 160,000 titles including 42,000 Arabic books and 118,000 in English, French, German and Russian.

The 29th TIBF is slated for May 4-14, at Sun City, located on Tehran-Qom Highway, near Imam Khomeini International Airport.