A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Imagine That: Police Book Exhibit That Doesn't Sell Anything Doesn't Draw Crowds

Hmm . . . I think I might be able to speculate on the answer this gentleman's puzzlement:
"I don't understand why no one is interested in our booth," he said. "Maybe it's because the material on display here isn't for sale."
It's the Interior Ministry's Police Book Exhibit at the Cairo International Book Fair in Nasr City. Yeah, not selling anything might have something to do with it. Also:
The pavilion proudly displays a host of books — both old and new — on a wide range of subjects, including the history of Egypt's penal system and human rights issues, along with copies of the ministry's official magazine. The publications are only available for browsing, however, and not for purchase.
Human rights issues? Well, they should have more documentation than anyone. The history of Egypt's penal system? I'll wait for the movie. But I suspect the fact that they don't sell their wares (so why are they there?) is part of it, and so maybe is this:
The booth is lavishly decorated, featuring an impressive mural of President Hosni Mubarak and a large golden eagle--the ministry's logo--above the entrance.
If I were Egyptian, I think the logo of State Security would surely draw me in to browse titles I can't buy in any event, but perhaps I'm not average on that. (I'm guessing it's the one in the circle in the following Ministry graphic):

There may be some folks who aren't lured in by the image of a raptor descending to strike. And I doubt that it was the only "impressive mural of Husni Mubarak" on display at the fair.

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