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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Qatar accused of promoting anti-Semitism at its state-run book fair

Titles included Holocaust denials, attacks on Jewish culture and material written by David Duke, a former KKK leader

The Doha International Book Fair is in its 29th year and is coming under attack for promoting anti-Semitic content. EPA
The Doha International Book Fair is in its 29th year and is coming under attack for promoting anti-Semitic content. EPA

As the Jewish community around the world celebrates Hannukah this week, a state-run book fair in Qatar has raised eyebrows among Jewish organisations in the United States for promoting anti-Semitic textbooks and publications that incite hatred.

The annual Doha International Book Fair, which is in its 29th year, is coming under attack for promoting anti-Semitic content. The exhibition that runs until Friday is carrying Arabic books that spread conspiracies and falsehoods about the Jews, and air denials about the Holocaust while also promoting authors affiliated with bigoted and racist organisations.

Among the books that are being publicised at the Qatari book fair are ‘Lies Spread by the Jews’, ‘Talmud of Secrets: Facts Exposing the Jewish Schemes to Control the World’, ‘The History of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the History of the Corruption of the Jews, and the Demise of their Entity’, ‘Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America’ by David Duke, ‘The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Purported Temple’ and ‘The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers’. David Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan leader who is widely known for harbouring anti-Semitic views.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) one of the largest organizations in the US to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry, has lodged a formal complaint to the US embassy in Doha about the book fair. It urges William Grant, the US Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the US embassy in Qatar, to “leverage the embassy’s participation in the book fair to urge the Qatari government to stop promoting such hateful content.” ADL is hoping for the removal of such books from the state-funded book fair in Doha.

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“Once again, this high-profile, government-sponsored book fair is being used to promote blatantly anti-Semitic books that deny the Holocaust and accuse Jews of controlling the world and trying to undermine Islam,” said Jonathan A Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director in a statement. “We call on the US embassy to make clear to Qatar’s government that this hate is unacceptable.”

Qatar has been the target of a boycott by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain over its support for extremism since June 2017. The small Gulf nation hosts among other extreme voices, the radical cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi who has consistently spread anti-Semitism in his sermons and previously on a TV show hosted by Al Jazeera.

Since the boycott, Qatar has attempted to rebrand its image in the United States and has invited prominent Jewish-American figures including Alan Dershowitz to visit Doha. This approach has not had any effect, however, on its state-run book fair, which has embraced anti-Semitic textbooks and publications over the years.