“The number of banned books is increasing every day, even though we live in an age where access to knowledge is facilitated through the internet,” translator Raza Naeem said on Sunday.
He was moderating an event organised by Olomopolo Media to mark the international week for banned books. The organisation also hosted a reading of some of the ‘banned’ books at their premises.
The group invited participants to pick a book of their choice banned anywhere in the world and read it to the audience.
Naeem said it was important to discuss why books were banned under various regimes in different countries.
He said Judith Krug had started the reading banned books in the US in 1982. He said the banned books week was also celebrated by Amnesty International.
Naeem said the Indian subcontinent had a history of banning books. He said Angaray was banned in 1932 under the colonial regime.
Naeem said Manto had been banned six times – thrice in colonial India and thrice after partition. He said Ismat Chughtai’s Lehaf had also been banned.
“Salman Rushdie remains a taboo in Pakistan,” he said.
He said the Indian government continued banning literature that criticized Gandhi.
Naeem read Manto’s Boo which he said was his first story to be banned.
Iram Sana, a participant did a reading of Manto’s story Mochna.
Fadil Asil read a chapter from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling.
Nazia Abbas read out some of the poems by Egyptian activist and writer Shaimaa al Sabbagh.
The activist was shot in a street in Egypt during a vigil for the people killed in during the uprising against Hosseni Mubarak.
Sabbagh’s final moments were captured by journalist covering the protest in a series of three pictures where she is being held up by a fellow activist.
As Abbas read out the poem titled A letter in my purse images of the writer’s final moments played on a screen.
Abbas also read out another poem about the destruction of a school in Palestine during an Israeli attack in 2015.
Kanwal Khoosat read the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. She said the book was about important issues on female sexuality.
Vicky Zhuang Yi Yin read Green Ham and Eggs, a poem by Dr Seuss which he said was banned in China due to references against Marxism.
She also read a few pages from George Orwell’s 1984.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.