Iran’s national stand remained empty and cordoned off on day two of the Frankfurt Book Fair, with signs explaining the country’s stance reading: “Freedom of speech: insulting the sacred beliefs of others.”
Iran cancelled its national stand and its publishers have boycotted the fair in protest at author Salman Rushdie’s keynote speech on Tuesday (13th October). Rushdie is technically still under the 1989 fatwa issued after the publication of his The Satanic Verses.
One solitary Iranian publisher was on hand to explain Iranian publishers’ absence to visitors.
Amir Salehi Taleghani, director of Printed in Iran, told The Bookseller Daily at Frankfurt Book Fair: “More than 550 Iranian people had a visa to come to the fair. Travel and accommodation was booked. People have lost a lot of money, but I wanted to come to tell everyone why Iran is boycotting the fair. I believe that everyone, from Germany to Iran, is one chain and if you cut one of the links, the chain breaks. There are more than one million Muslims here and we think Rushdie should not have been invited to speak.”
In his address, Rushdie said freedom of speech “should be like the air we breathe...the fact that we have to go about fighting this battle is the result of more regrettable recent phenomena.”
FBF director Juergen Boos voiced disappointment at the Iranian publishers’ boycott, adding: “Freedom of speech is not a negotiable value. It is at the core of what we do. Publishers and booksellers are speaking up for freedom: it is the bedrock of a democratic society.”