Libya celebrates end of banned books

Libyans are celebrating the freedom to read whatever they want in a post-Gaddafi world. Last week, bagpipers and VIPs congregated in the library of the Italianate Royal Palace for a ceremony marking the unbanning of books, the Toronto Star reported.

Titles once forbidden such as “The Secret Life of Saddam Hussein” and “The CIA Files of Arab Rulers” and “Sex in the Arab World” were on display. Visitors found once-censored books on Islamic literature, theology, philosophy, math, science and politics, including an Arabic translation of Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father.”

“Here in this historic place, knowledge was banned,” the Star quoted Dr. Salah Abdallah Rajeb al-Aghab, a senior official with the Libyan government archeology section, as saying. “The previous regime called it a national library, but it was more like an indoctrination centre to control our thinking.”

Also now available are banned books on homosexuality, according to CNN, and even detailed maps of Tripoli, prohibited under Gaddafi.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveLevingston

Steven Levingston is the nonfiction editor of The Washington Post. He is author of “Little Demon in the City of Light: A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Époque Paris” (Doubleday, 2014) and “The Kennedy Baby: The Loss that Transformed JFK” (Washington Post eBook, 2013).

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