Thursday, April 28, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi's War on Writers: An Interview with Novelist Hisham Matar

Are writers dangerous? For dictators such as Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, they are.

That's the theme of an interview broadcast today with Libyan novelist Hisham Matar. Speaking on NPR, Matar described how Gadhafi imprisoned hundreds of poets, short story writers and novelists for no crime other than simply writing.

Ideas outside the "official narrative" were threats to the regime, Matar notes, which led Gadhafi and his minions to lock up anyone who dared challenge the powers structure. Matar also reports that government officials went to bookstores to collect unapproved books, which they proceeded to burn.

Obviously, such actions are anti-intellectual and wrong. They also demonstrate how thin-skinned and paranoid Gadhafi was, unwilling even to allow "dangerous" books in the bookshops.

Matar's intervew, in print and audio forms, is here.

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