CAIRO (AFP) — Around 15 Egyptian trade unions -- from doctors to writers -- issued a protest on Thursday over a decision to make Israel a guest of honour at a major Paris book fair next month.
"This choice is unacceptable while Israel continues to breach human rights," president of the Arab and Egyptian writers' unions Mohammad Salmawy told AFP, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thirty-nine Israeli writers have been invited to the March 14-19 book fair as part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state.
A delegation of unionists delivered a note of protest on Sunday to French ambassador Philippe Coste, said Salmawy, who is also editor-in-chief of French language magazine Al-Ahram Hebdo.
"We are very disappointed, particularly because France has always had a more objective political stance and defended human rights," he added without ruling out a complete boycott of the fair.
"To honour Israel at the Paris book fair with the support of the foreign ministry flies in the face of the feelings of millions of Palestinians who have endured more than a half century of the worst occupation," the note said.
Alaa al-Aswani, bestselling author of The Yacoubian Building, said, "I am very shocked because France has been for more than two centuries a very important country in terms of Egyptian culture. This is not the France that I know."
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979 but relations remain fragile with many Egyptians sympathetic to the situation of the Palestinians.
Posted on 22-02-2008