At approximately 13:30 on Sunday, 23 January 2011, 4 persons, one of whom was wearing military uniform, who introduced themselves as members of the GIB, confiscated copies of two novels – Alaa al-Aswany's "Chicago" and Haidar Haidar's "Banquet for Seaweed" – from Ibn Khaldoun bookstore opposite to al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City. The GIB members presented a decision issued by the Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip ordering confiscation of a number of novels, including the aforementioned ones. They also informed the owner of the bookstore to refer to al-Abbas police station to obtain a document proving the confiscation of the two novels. They further claimed that the two novels violate the Islamic Shari'a (Islamic Law).
At the same time, 3 persons wearing civilian clothes, went to al-Shorouq bookstore. They introduced themselves as members of the GIB and presented an order issued by the Ministry of Interior ordering confiscation of 3 novels: "Chicago;" "Banquet for Seaweed;" and "Forbidden Pleasure." They confiscated copies of the first two novels as the third one was not available in the bookshop. They also informed the owner of the bookstore to refer to al-Abbas police station to obtain a document proving the confiscation of the two novels.
Earlier, two persons wearing civilian clothes, who introduced themselves as members of the Internal Security Service, went to Sameer Mansour bookstore opposite to the Islamic University in Jamal Abdul Nasser Street in the west of Gaza City. They requested an employee to show them the two novels - "Chicago" and "Banquet for Seaweed." When the employee showed them copies of the two novels, they ordered him not to sell them until necessary measures are taken with regard to them.
Major Ayman al-Batniji, spokesman of the Palestinian police, told a PCHR field worker in a phone call on Monday, 24 January 2011, that he had no information about such measures, but he digressed claiming that these novels violate the Islamic Shari'a.
I'm sure that the media will be all over this outrageous act of banning books, just as they would if Christians or Jews did this. I look forward to the "Comment is Free" piece on this issue.