Frankfurt organisers 'regret' authors cancelling over presence of New Right publisher

Frankfurt organisers 'regret' authors cancelling over presence of New Right publisher

Organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair say they "regret" that some authors have decided to cancel their appearances at this year's event owing to the presence of New Right publisher Jungeuropa.

On 19th October Jasmina Kuhnke, a screenwriter and activist, announced on Twitter that she had been invited as a surprise guest to the fair to present her debut novel Black Heart. However, she had decided to cancel after discovering right-wing publisher Jungeuropa would be exhibiting. She said its presence at the fair was a personal danger to her. 

Jungeuropa is run by Philip Stein who has a leading position in One Percent, a network for members of the German New Right, an ultra right-wing nationalist movement.

T-Online reported that two other writers have followed Kuhnke's lead with Annabell Mandeng and Nikeata Thompson also cancelling appearances. Jungeuropa called the boycott "absurd" on Twitter. 

In a joint statement on 20th October, Frankfurter Buchmesse and the German Publishers and Booksellers Association said they "regret that individual authors have decided not to appear at Frankfurter Buchmesse" and that "their voices against racism and in support of diversity will be missed at the book fair".

They added: "With our own programming and that of our partners, we send clear signals for a diverse society and take a stand in favour of interacting with others in a tolerant, respectful way. In doing so, we clearly distance ourselves from extreme positions. Frankfurter Buchmesse has always been a place for discourse where questions of human rights, freedom of speech and expression, and how to respond to extremism have been addressed.

"Freedom of expression and publication are, for us, paramount. They are the basis for engaging in a free exchange in our democracy and for having a book fair at all. Frankfurter Buchmesse and the German Publishers & Booksellers Association are committed to promoting freedom of speech and freedom of the press worldwide. That is why it is also clear for us that publishers who operate within the law can exhibit at the book fair, even if we do not share their views. In our constitutional democracy, banning publishing houses or their publications is the role of the courts and not individual actors like Frankfurter Buchmesse.

"Ensuring the safety of participants at the book fair is our top priority. The fair is organised based on a comprehensive security plan that makes it possible for everyone to visit the fair safely."

In the opening press conference, director of the book fair Juergen Boos said he thought freedom of speech was "one of our most precious assets" adding "unfortunately, we have to allow the presence of opinions of people who I don't want to see here".