Le Monde on Islamist Efforts to Ban the 1,001 Nights

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Jan 3 2013, 08:48:00

There's an interesting piece at Le Monde on Islamist efforts to or suppress the 1,001 Nights, a perennial target. It's fairly detailed and, while it also talks about campaigns against belly-dancing (a subject also overdue for an updated report here), it mostly concentrates on the Nights and its role in Arabic popular culture and entertainment: Les Frères musulmans font taire Schéhérazade (The Muslim Brothers would Silence Scheherezade.) This is not the first time of course; there was an effort in 2010, and various editions of the work have frequently come under fire. (As an aside, this appears to be a post on what is seemingly "Le Monde's sex blog". Who knew? I mean they're French and all, but so stuffy and intellectual ...)

The Western media tends to focus on the culture wars aspect of Islamist puritanism, since most of it is fairly straightforward: attempts to ban alcohol, or belly-dancing, or certain movies, or bikinis on beaches catch the Western imagination. Literary censorship is less frequently reported because it's harder to illustrate (though Le Monde does a pretty good job). And while many people may be at least aware of the erotic content in some of the Nights tales, most people probably associate them with Sinbad's adventures, or Ali Baba, or Disney's version of Aladdin.

Islamists (by no means just the Brotherhood, despite the article's title) are, like censors everywhere, more than willing to put their own persons at risk by finding all the dirty words or suggestive scenes in even enormous collections like the Alf Layla wa Layla, in order to protect us weaker creatures from them. This huge collection of tales may have roots in India and pre-Islamic Persia, sets many of its tales in the Abbasid Baghdad of Harun al-Rashid (but others as far afield as China, the distant seas, or ...

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