Im Rahmen der Revolutionen in der arabischen Welt wird auch immer wieder, meist kritisch, über Saudi-Arabien diskutiert. Die Prager Buchmesse machte Saudi-Arabien zum Ehrengast – und erntete dafür scharfe Kritik. Zu Unrecht, wie der saudische Schriftsteller M.H. Alwan in einem Artikel des „Guardian“ erklärt:
As a Saudi writer and a victim of censorship myself for many years, I was surprised at the criticism of last weekend’s Book World Prague for making the kingdom of Saudi Arabia its 2011 guest of honour. Much as I understand the concerns of freedom of speech campaigners about Saudi Arabia – a country that is not at all „writers friendly“ – I found myself disagreeing when they suggested that the invitation was a „travesty“. What should the organisers have done? Should Saudi Arabians be banned from appearing at international book fairs instead?
It is the Saudi writers themselves who would suffer the most from such international isolation. If you think we’re persecuted in our own country through censorship and book bans, why on earth should we punished by international isolation as well? You may suggest that such a move would put a pressure on the Saudi government to grant its writers more freedom, but those in charge of the country have never considered art or literature as the means of enhancing its international presence or global image. Being deprived of the position of guest of honour at a book fair won’t trigger the question of „Who moved my cheese?“ in the next government meeting.
There is a huge spectrum of writers in Saudi Arabia. Some of them conform with the government schema and its overall ideological view and have produced significant literary works indeed. Others are more critical, but many writers today also enjoy more freedom than the previous generation, which used to suffer from the lack of it. It is still absolutely not enough by any means, but many see signs that a breakthrough is coming.
We have a long way to travel before things are satisfactory in Saudi Arabia. Spreading enlightenment is a job for writers, but if they are isolated from international contacts these writers will soon be in need of enlightenment themselves.
Noch ein bisschen mehr dazu bei dem Blog „Arabic Literature„, der mich hierauf erst aufmerksam gemacht hat.