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2015: Oct-Dec

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Offsite Article: Children's writer Lynne Reid Banks recommends...

Link Here8th December 2015
David Almond's A Song for Ella Grey. 'In the first five pages there is lesbian love, swearing, drinking, and enough other indications that, once again, this is not a book for children'.

See article from



Update: Publishing struggle nears end...

Mein Kampf set for a Germany edition next month after copyright control expires

Link Here2nd December 2015
Full story: Mein Kampf...Censorship issues with Hitler's book
Mein Refugee Kamps by Angela Merkel

  Perhaps will prove equally controversial over the next 70 years.

Adolf Hitler's political manifesto Mein Kampf with critical notes by scholars is finally set to be published next month - for the first time in Germany since the end of WWII.

The Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich says it will print up to 4,000 copies with some 3,500 notes. IfZ director Andreas Wirsching says the text with expert comments will shatter the myth surrounding the book.

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was originally printed in 1925 - eight years before Hitler came to power.

After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces handed the copyright to the book to the state of Bavaria. The local authorities have refused to allow the book to be reprinted to prevent incitement of hatred. Under German law copyright lasts for 70 years, and so publishers will be able to have free access to the original text from January.



Updated: Pushed Into the River...

New Zealand seems to have sacked its book censor who embarrassed the nation by banning an award winning book for older children

Link Here1st December 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans
New Zealand's Internal Affairs Minister, Peter Dunne, has issued a statement announcing seven new changes to the Film and Literature Board of Review.

One notable change is to replace current president Don Mathieson as of January 2016.

Mathieson made headlines in 2015, after Ted Dawe's novel Into The River was banned .The ban was later lifted by the board, however the decision was not welcomed by Mathieson .

In October 2015, Mathieson delivered a dissenting minority report but the remainder of the board voted to allow the book to be sold without restriction, saying a previous ban on under-14s was no longer justified.

Earlier in the week, Mathieson said he did not expect to be reappointed after two three-year terms, both as president, and did not put his name forward to continue in the job.

He refused to comment on the controversy around Into the River, however he said he was not particularly glad or sorry to be leaving the board, which he joined as a public service.

Update: Oh dear!... local moralist campaigners are not amused

1st December 2015. See  article from

The moralist campaign group Family First have written an open letter to the book censor given the push by the government:

Dear Dr Mathieson

We note with regret that you have not been reappointed as President of the Film and Literature Board of Review.

On behalf of many NZ families, we want to thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity in the censorship arena, and for being willing to stand strong despite personal attacks and rants from the media, including being a conservative Christian , for writing a book about faith at work, and for opposing the redefinition of marriage. How shocking. (Ironically, one of your replacements loves marriage -- including with other married people -- but apparently his private life does not affect his ability to be a moral authority .)

Dr Mathieson -- during the debate over censorship, community standards, and the book Into the River, you spoke for many many parents who are concerned with declining standards in our society, especially with material which our young people and children can so easily access, and a parent's desire to protect their children from age-inappropriate material that is disturbing and harmful.

Unlike the rest of the Board who flip-flopped on their decisions (and who along with the Chief Censor had no examination of their private life by the media), you did not kowtow to pressure from the book industry and remove any restriction on Into the River despite its highly offensive and gratuitous language, adult themes and graphic sexual content.

You remained consistent and principled.


Dr Mathieson, we salute you. We thank you.

Yours sincerely
Bob McCoskrie National Director Family First



Update: 267 years on...

Singapore unbans Fanny Hill

Link Here27th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in Singapore...Singapore takes offence and puts author on trial
Singapore residents can now read 240 books and publications which were formerly blacklisted by the country's censor for content ranging from adult to communism -- but adult magazines such as Hustler , Penthouse and Playboy are still banned.

The ban was lifted after a routine review by book censors at the country's Media Development Authority (MDA) which told The Straits Times that it routinely reviewed prior classification decisions to ensure they kept pace with societal norms. The ban was lifted because the books were already out of print and were within the MDA's latest censorship rules.

Among the 240 blacklisted titles, one famous book was Fanny Hill, an erotic novel based on the life of a girl who moves to London and falls into prostitution. The novel was written by John Cleland and published in 1748.

The 17 titles still banned include publications of the Jehovah's Witness church, banned in 1972 as its members had declined to undergo military service which was deemed compulsory for men above the age of 18 in Singapore. The rest of the banned titles carry adult content, such as the magazines Penthouse, Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, Mayfair, Men Only, Knave and Swank .



Life Goes On...

Chinese book censorship becomes more censorial

Link Here14th November 2015
Just over a decade ago, Sheng's best-selling breakthrough novel, Northern Girls , was published uncensored in mainland China to critical acclaim.

But last month, as editors prepared to launch a third edition of the book, the author was informed that parts of her text were no longer publishable.

The censorship is related to the recent change of policy to allow Chinese couples to have two children instead of one. Now the censors seem keen to hide some of the nasty consequences of the previous policy.

One excerpt editors want to expunge from the latest edition of her 2004 novel refers to the forced abortions and sterilisations undergone by women as a result of China's one-child policy, which was formally scrapped last month after 35 years. One of the offending lines reads:

Those who exceeded the bounds of family planning policies and found themselves pregnant again had to have abortions.

President Xi Jinping has been laying out a more censorial policy for literature. A speech from 2014 was recently published demanded that writers promote propaganda that the party's core socialist values and spread positive energy with their work:

Good works of art and literature should be like the sunshine from a blue sky and the breeze of spring. They should enlighten, warm and cultivate.

Xi criticised writers speaking of the realities of Chinese life. He warned:

Some works ridicule what is noble and distort the classics, they subvert history and smear the masses and heroes. Some works make no distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, overplaying the dark side of society.



Update: Funny and Unbanned...

Books of political cartoons unbanned in Malaysia

Link Here11th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books
Malaysia's Home Ministry has been ordered to return books seized from political cartoonist Zunar by the country's Federal Court.

The court's five-man bench upheld the Court of Appeal's decision to overturn the ministry's ban on the books 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun.

The ministry is to return 33 copies of the books to Zunar, whose full name is Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, the apex court ordered.

The books were seized in 2010 after the home ministry's ban on May 10 that year under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, for threatening public order.

The publishers had mounted a challenge to overturn the ban in July 2010 and lost at the High Court. The Court of Appeal later overturned the decision.

The satirist himself still faces multiple charges of sedition.



Update: US book censors...

Mainstream bookshops are fighting Louisiana anti-porn law because the overbroad wording applies suffocating censorship measures to mainstream books

Link Here7th November 2015
Full story: Book Censorship by US Security...Book censorship over military operations
Two mainstream bookstores in New Orleans have filed suit against Attorney General James D. Caldwell and more than 40 district attorneys over House Bill (HB) 153. Primarily an anti-pornography measure, the Louisiana law requires anyone who publishes material harmful to minors on the Internet to verify web-surfers' dates of birth before allowing them access. But for independent bookstores like the plaintiffs, HB 153 poses a unique threat : deny minors access to their entire web catalog or face a $10,000 fine.

According to a Shelf Awareness report, HB 153 requires this of booksellers:

[To] either place an age confirmation button in front of their entire website, thereby restricting access to materials that may be appropriate for all ages, or attempt to review all of the books ... available at their website and place an age confirmation button in front of each individual page that might be inappropriate for any minor.

HB 153 considers material harmful to minors if :

  • (a) The material incites or appeals to or is designed to incite or appeal to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors.
  • (b) The material is offensive to the average adult applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable for minors.
  • (c) The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors

Owner Britton Trice notes that the Garden District Bookshop cannot possibly review the 1 million-plus titles on our website, and would therefore be forced to ban all minors from browsing the collection. But even bookseller sites that cater exclusively to older generations would be required to put age verification walls in place, because the $10,000 fine applies to any retailer that does not verify visitors' ages, regardless of whether any minors come to the website or not.

The Media Coalition, the ACLU, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are named plaintiffs in the challenge, alongside the Garden District Bookshop and Octavia Books.



Religion is way more harmful than a book...

Lebanese comic book Samandal prosecuted over claims of it somehow causing religious strife

Link Here7th November 2015

On December of 2009, and with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture as part of Beirut Book Capital of the World , Samandal put out its 7th anthology in collaboration with the Belgian publishing house, L'employe du Moi, with further support from the French Cultural Center (CCF) in Beirut and the Belgian Ministry of Culture in Brussels. This publication was the fruit of a year-long collaboration between comic artists in Lebanon and their partners in Belgium, spanning several lectures and workshops, and launched at an exhibition at the CCF with the help of the UNESCO fund.

Four months later, three of the four Samandal editors that worked on that book were charged by the public attorney with a) inciting sectarian strife b) denigrating religion c) publishing false news and d) defamation and slander.

After five years of legal proceedings, we were found guilty on the basis of article 25 of the publications law, and on April 28, 2015 we were fined 10,000,000 LL each ($20,000 in total), equal to two years and nine months in jail on failure of payment. This incrimination, instigated by religious institutions and sustained by the state, has crippled Samandal and threatens to bring our decade-long career in comics to an end.

We began Samandal as a volunteer-based, non-profit organization in 2007 because we felt that comics were an underrepresented medium in our part of the world. We wanted to create a platform to tell stories from Lebanon and the Middle East, as well as to bring independent comics from around the world to a local audience. Alongside publishing comics, we also organized countless workshops, comics jams, international artist exchanges, and lectures, opening up the dialogue to include artists from different disciplines, and along with Metropolis Art Cinema have co-founded Beirut Animated, the biennial animation festival in Beirut.

It thus came as a surprise when we found out that the state had charged us with inciting sectarian strife. Our case began with a letter sent by the minister of information to the minister of justice requesting litigation against Samandal on account of Christian personalities finding two panels in two separate comics offensive to religion. The minister of justice in turn referred the case to the public prosecutor at the court of cassation.

The comics themselves address religion only tangentially and deal satirically with completely different subjects. However, a handful of panels were selectively taken out of context as proof of blasphemy (akin to indicting a publisher for having a character in a book use the name of the lord in vain.) We want to present these comics to you in their entirety ( Lebanese Recipes for Revenge by Lena Merhej & Ecce Homo by Valfret) so that you may judge their disruptive natures for yourselves, however we cannot link to them directly for fear of a recurrence of the whole legal debacle. Instead we direct you to our co-publisher's website

Despite our lawyers' airtight legal defense against these claims, the court fell back on the vagaries of an elastic censorship law and a cohort of complacent public servants to criminalize and punish us, in the process committing several legal violations to wit:

  1. The three editors currently have warrants of subjugation issued against them. These illegal warrants, issued by General Security (despite being annulled by the decision of the council of ministers no. 10 dated 24/7/2014), give it the power to delay official transactions, hold passports, and harass subjects at will. Warrants of subjugation are regularly issued against human rights activists, lawyers and authors/artists as a method of intimidation.

  2. The publication law in Lebanon places the legal responsibility for such cases primarily on the authors of the offending story, in this case, Ms. Merhej (also one of the editors of Samandal) and Valfret, and then on the publisher, Samandal Association in this case. Instead, the legal proceedings ignored these laws and targeted three of the four editors personally, incurring triple the charges and triple the fines.

  3. The editors were never allowed to testify at the cassation court, even after repeated official requests were made. The same court rejected our request to summon the authors as witnesses.

The assumption that we built a platform such as Samandal to take cheap shots at religious institutions is absurd, and the richness of our publications speaks for themselves. We respect all religions equally and have no interest in targeting any single one for ridicule. However, we have no respect, and in fact much contempt, for those who use religion as a way of exercising their power and tightly policing public discourse.

The assertion that Samandal is insulting the Christian faith is an attempt to pit Samandal against Christianity and religion as a whole, when in fact it is a few individuals in power who are purposefully misreading the work in order to monopolize the conversation and deflect from their own incompetence at state legislation and their own incitement of sectarian strife when it suits them to do so. It is an unfortunate irony that a non-profit publishing platform for comics was prosecuted for crimes that continue to be committed daily by various politicians and their respective news outlets. Religion has been wrested from the hands of worshippers and into the chokehold of state institutions, stifling conversation and reducing all debate to a reductive binary of with us or against us. We refuse to be a part of that exchange. In fact, Samandal was created precisely to provide an alternative space for a different kind of dialogue, one much richer in language and nuanced in its discussions of the subtleties of the world around us.

Far from being an isolated incident, the Samandal case is simply one iteration within a longstanding practice of arbitrary and unjust state censorship and silencing of artistic production. There is a pressing need to strike a balance between the dangers of censorship on artistic freedom to that of the rights of the plaintiff and other religious sensitivities. This balance becomes even more imperative when the defendant is an artist, while the plaintiff is the public prosecution, or a powerful economic or religious figure, who stands to lose little or nothing in return.

Today Samandal is threatened with imminent collapse because of the capricious and biased application of an antiquated censorship law. The upcoming release of Geographia will be the final issue we can publish as Samandal's finances have been crippled by the damages of the lawsuit forcing our organization to shut down.

However, our love of comics and our ambitions to publish more have not been dampened by this incident and we hope to protest this ruling by continuing to publish, improve and expand Samandal with your continued solidarity. Samandal has survived and thrived because of the involvement and support of its public, and we now call on you to help us relaunch the publication. We hope that a crowdfunding campaign will help us get back on our feet and furthermore publish two new anthologies of Samandal comics. If you would like to help us in our push back, please donate at our online crowdfunding campaign.



Abusing Life...

Egyptian authorities prosecute writer of top literary magazine for being sexy

Link Here2nd November 2015

Egypt will prosecute the editor-in-chief and a writer for Egypt's top literary magazine for publishing sexually explicit material and allegedly violating public morals.

Mahmoud Othman, a lawyer representing writer Ahmed Naji, said prosecution officials had told him that Naji and editor Tarek el-Taher's case had been designated as a misdemeanour. The first court session is slated for 14 November.

Naji said the story began when Akhbar al-Adab magazine published an excerpt from Naji's novel The Guide for Using Life in August 2014. It contains explicit sex acts and references to habitual cannabis use by the characters.

Naji says his book, printed in Beirut, has already been approved by Egyptian censors. The novel is available in local bookstores, and is rated 3.5 out of five stars on

The Use Of Life is an experimental graphic novel in which Naji casually observes the lives of Cairenes in absurdist tones. It leans heavily on explicit sexual imagery from wife-swapping in lower middle-class suburbs to drug sellers in brothels in ghettos. The comic strips add to the surrealist aesthetic Naji is trying to convey and that is why he is going to trial on 14 November.

The plaintiff initiating thcase against Naji argues that he suffered cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue and low blood pressure when he read the novel excerpt from its graphic depictions in August 2014 when it was published.



Update: New Zealand's bedraggled reputation fished out of the river...

Book censors rescind their ludicrous book ban initiated at the behest of moralist campaigners

Link Here 16th October 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans
Into the River is a young adult novel that was temporarily banned in New Zealand for subject matter that offended religious moralist campaigner.

An interim banning order was applied to Ted Dawe's novel in September after a campaign by Family First to get age restrictions applied.

The ban has now been lifted by New Zealand's Film and Literature Board who ludicrously imposed the unnecessary ban that generated worldwide infamy for New Zealand.

In a majority decision released on Wednesday, the board lifted the ban saying although aspects of the book may offend, it did not believe an age restriction was justified. The ruling noted:

Whilst many parents may choose not to allow their children to read such material, there are no grounds to restrict the book from teenage readers.

The interim ban was widely criticised by authors and organisations including the New Zealand Book Council and the Publishers Association of New Zealand, while readers worldwide organised silent readings in protest and solidarity with Dawe.

Family First's national director Bob McCoskrie accused the board of succumbing to book industry pressure despite the book's highly offensive and gratuitous language, adult themes and graphic sexual content . But news the ban had been lifted was generally welcomed in New Zealand.

Update: Censorship is alive in New Zealand. I should know my book was banned

27th October 2015. See  article from . By Ted Dawe



Updated: Ongoing censorship...

Saudi Arabia and Iran still seeking to ban Sir Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses

Link Here13th October 2015
Full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world
Saudi Arabia has summoned the Czech ambassador over a new translation of Sir Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses .

Saudi expressed its condemnation and disapproval of translating the book , which it claims is offensive to Islam, and hopes the Prague government will ban the publication of the work. It was reported that Saudi demanded that religion and cultures not be insulted in any way or form.

But Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told his country's CTK news agency:

We have no reason to interfere in any way because we have freedom of the press and expression.

Meanwhile Iran has announced that it is boycotting a Frankfurt book fair after organisers invited Rushdie as a guest speaker. The foreign ministry said the fair had:

Under the pretext of freedom of expression, invited a person who is hated in the Islamic world and create the opportunity for Salman Rushdie ... to make a speech.

The ministry also called on other Muslim nations to join its boycott. Deputy culture minister Abbas Salehi said:

Fair officials chose the theme of freedom of expression, but they invited someone who has insulted our beliefs.

Update: Censors Rebuffed

13th October 2015. See  article from

The Frankfurt Book Fair has said that freedom of expression is non-negotiable , in response to the Iranian Ministry of Culture's confirmed boycott of this week's fair over the presence of keynote speaker Salman Rushdie. Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, said:

We very much regret the Iranian Ministry of Culture's cancellation. Frankfurt Book Fair is a place of dialogue. At the same time, we hope that this year's cancellation is just a brief interruption in the existing conversations and that we can continue to expand on the established relationships. Nevertheless, for us, freedom of expression is non-negotiable. We must not forget that Rushdie is still being threatened with death for his work.

The Frankfurt Book Fair has said it hopes for further dialogue with the Iranian Ministry of Censorship.



Update: Into the River Streisand...

Book targeted by a New Zealand morality campaign gets US distribution as a result of the publicity

Link Here1st October 2015
Full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans
The book recently banned (pending appeal) by New Zealand book censors has secured distribution in the United States and Canada as a result of the censorship fracas.

American publishing house Polis Books plan to publish Into the River , by Ted Dawe, in hardcover and as an e-book after founder Jason Pinter heard about the New Zealand ban. He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report :

Any time a book is banned, all it serves to do is get the book more readers. This is how I heard about the book, to begin with - I was actually on holiday with my family, and it made me want to read the book.

I don't think the book deserves to be banned. It's a fantastic book - I wouldn't be publishing it if [I didn't think that].

There are no plans to restrict the age of American readers, although Pinter said Polis would recommend that readers be over 13, as parents tended to buy for their children and might want to be aware of its more sensitive themes.

Into the River won Book of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, but was not been picked up for publication outside of New Zealand before its ban.

After a challenge from Christian morality campaign, Family First, the Film and Literature Board of Review placed an interim restriction order on the book last month, meaning no-one in New Zealand could distribute or exhibit the novel. It was pulled off library and bookshop shelves.

A potential age restriction is being considered and the Film and Literature Board of Review meets this week to discuss the matter.

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