We have our classics, they have theirs.

The cycle of violence as supply and demand: government censors skew the fair towards Islam and anti-semitism, and the public, weaned on Islam and anti-semitism to divert its attention from government malfeasance, snaps it up.

[M]any complain that the crowds are just there to picnic and buy religious books…

Of the 700 Egyptian and Arab publishers at the fair, the vast majority stock religious books on their shelves. “Even we reserve about a quarter of our catalog for them,” said publisher Ansari.

Korans of all styles, from the simple to the leather-bound, share shelf space with collections of religious sayings and fatwas as well as their more modern incarnations on cassettes and compact disks.

Jimmy Carter likes to point to the fact that the Camp David accords are still being observed by both sides, lo these many years later. That might be true at the moment, but it won’t always be so. The government’s trying to manage the monster it helped create and it won’t be able to restrain it forever.

The fair also has its darker sides, with anti-Christian polemics advocating conversion to Islam as the only solution to a flawed religion and of course plenty of editions of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” for sale.

“It makes up a big part of our success, especially among the 18 to 25 crowd,” said Mahmud Abdallah of the Syrian-Egyptian Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi publishing house…

Partly this could be because certain books didn’t make it to the fair. As Lebanese publisher Dar al-Adab discovered when the boxes containing works by Milan Kundera, Nikos Kazantzakis and noted Egyptian authors Nawal al-Saadawi and Edward al-Kharrat were missing…

According to literary observers, subject matters involving sex, controversial politics and attacks on religion set off alarms among the censors.

Exit question: Is this poll good news or bad news?

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Tags: Islam religion