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CBC News | May 10, 2008

Thousands protest Israeli focus at Turin book fair

About 4,000 people filled the streets of Turin, Italy, on Saturday to protest against the Turin Book fair's celebration of Israeli writers.

With a banner reading: "Boycott Israel, support Palestine," protestors walked through the streets towards the old factory building, which is hosting the prestigious booksellers' exhibition, due to end on Monday.

About 1,000 police were on hand to contain the crowd as demonstrators denounced the "continuing terror and daily raids which have, these last few years, killed 5,050 Palestinians and destroyed 32,000 houses."

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel. Israeli authors featured at the fair include Abraham B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Amos Oz, Aaron Appelfeld and Meir Shalev.

When asked by an Italian newspaper this week whether he represented Israel, Applefeld replied: "I cannot represent a state, I can only represent my thoughts."
No Palestinian writers invited

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano inaugurated the fair on Thursday by saying: "No dialogue is possible if there is a refusal to recognize Israel."

However, the 1997 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Italian playwright and director Dario Fo, supports the protest and criticized organizers for not having invited Palestinian authors.

Fo says that instead of reading from his new book, The Apocalypse Postponed, he plans to use his appearance at the fair to talk about the Palestinian cause.

"Many have chosen to forfeit the fair, but I think it is necessary to attend and to raise a taboo theme: Palestine," Fo told the newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old fair, the second-largest in Europe with more than 300,000 visitors last year, features traders, writers and more than 1,400 publishers from all over the world.

The Paris book fair in March, which also highlighted Israeli literature, drew similar protests.

Posted on 11-05-2008

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