Anti-Semitism Allegations Cloud Book Fair | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.10.2004
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Anti-Semitism Allegations Cloud Book Fair

German authorities have declined to open a criminal probe following a complaint by a leading Jewish rights group that Arab publishers were displaying anti-Semitic literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair.


The Arab world is this year's guest of honor at the fair

"We reviewed the written complaint and saw no reason to take direct action," said a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the western city of Frankfurt, Jörg Claude.

Frankfurt Book Fair director Volker Neumann received a letter Wednesday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in protest against books on display at stands run by Arab publishers, the guests of honor at this year's show.

Book fair spokesman Holger Ehling said the organization had mentioned "six or seven" books from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Libya which allegedly glorified the late leader of the Palestinian radical group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, denied the Holocaust and attacked the Israeli secret service Mossad.

Ehling said the prosecutor's office was immediately informed but that the books had not been pulled from the booths.

"The book fair has no right to censor books so we handed the matter to the authorities," he told AFP, stressing that books critical of Israel were not necessarily in violation of Germany's strict hate speech laws.

On the opening day of the fair Wednesday, a small group of Jewish protesters waved Israeli and American flags in front of the fairgrounds, calling the decision to highlight the Arab world at the event a "scandal" and distributing brochures listing human rights abuses in the Middle East.

Security has been stepped up at the event this year, with frequent police patrols and airport-style metal detectors at entrances.

The Frankfurt fair, the world's largest annual publishing event, runs through Sunday.

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