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Leading novelist pulls out of Dubai book festival in protest at gay censorship

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  1. Good on Margaret Atwood. If Dubai wants to be seen as progressive, it should put its money where its mouth is. It’s all very well to pour money into making it a modern world class tourist destination but if their politics is still stuck in the middle ages, more people should vote with their feet.

  2. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2009, 4:38pm

    I hope she inspires other writers to pull out as well. Dubai should not be regarded as a progressive state if it still jails people for homosexual acts. It should be treated as the facist dump that it is.

  3. Well done, Margaret Atwood! I hope the organisers think about their reaction to the book now that a very famous writer has pulled out because of their discrimination. And I hope others pull out too. I’m sure they would if some country complained because a book had a black character so let’s hope they do in this case.

  4. Terry Floyd Johnson 18 Feb 2009, 6:00pm

    3 cheers for Margaret Atwood, who stands behind her beliefs

  5. Har Davids 18 Feb 2009, 7:53pm

    Too bad we still need these people’s oil, but I don’t understand people talking about ‘modern’ Dubai; it’s bling-bling bitogs.

  6. Jaime Bridle 18 Feb 2009, 8:27pm

    It might have been interesting to see how much awareness she could have raised by attending the event and then being outspoken about the issue while there.

  7. Well done , Margaret Atwood. Not only a champion of human rights, but does so much to support the conservation of the world’s rarest birds!

  8. John Rendle 19 Feb 2009, 3:09am

    I too admire Margaret for her stand. This sort of attitude is typical of the region. Why anyone would want to visit there, let alone live there, is beyond me. There is nothing modern about it except some of the buildings! And I would never fly Emirates either. I would never support a regime that is so restrictive of women, as well as gay.

  9. Dubai, i lived there but broke my contract after 4 months and came home. it’s “progressive” in as far as western women don’t have to cover excessively, and non Muslims can buy alcohol freely, that’s it. When i was working there companies with contracts with the dubai government were sacking employees known or suspected of being gay, and back ground checks were introduced to try and prevent gay people being hired in the first place. The unsurprising thing though was it was the easiest country i ever visited in which to get gay sex with Muslims. I got curb crawled regularly just walking home from work by Arabs guys in the full white robes offering me a lift, and once you got in the car their hands went straight for your thighs… bunch of complete hypocrites!!!! I am delighted that Margaret Atwood has stood up for her principles, if the other big names writers did the same, it would send a clear message, but most will put their wallets before their principles, if they have any. And Jamie, she wouldn’t have raised any awareness by going and speaking out, all media is censored, no negative comment she made would be reported….

  10. Chris(tine) 19 Feb 2009, 10:30am

    Thank you, Margaret Atwood! I admire you.

  11. davevauxhall 19 Feb 2009, 11:51am

    More reason to love Margaret Atwood as if there wasn’t enough already, hurrah!

  12. Just looked at the Dubai Book Festival website and it seems that the poet Carol Ann Duffy (who is openly lesbian) is meant to be appearing as well. Surely the woman who wrote ‘Warming Her Pearls’ and many, many other lesbian poems cannot still be planning to attend? Why have they invited an openly gay writer (who often writes gay-themed pieces) is they’re then going to censor any homosexuality? Might be worth us all checking out if any of the writers who are meant to attending are authors we generally read/like and contacting them to make them aware of the censorship and ask them to consider boycotting the event.

  13. Thank you Margaret Atwood. I have been an admirer of your writing ever since I first read Surfacing, in 74, I have always felt there is a truth in your writing now I see by your actions I was not wrong. In Fiction there is truth.

  14. Proud to be a fellow Canadian today. :-) Tried to find contact info for M.A. to send her a Thank You note, but had no success. Hope it’ll get back to her some way. And no – I don’t think it would’ve caused the same effect if she’d gone there and tried to raise a stink. THIS will make headlines. It’s still trying to change things from within. By attending the event, she’d have approved of the practice. And yes, Ms. Duffy should really reconsider her appearance there. She should also be aware of the possible personal danger of going there as an open lesbian.

  15. I once saw a documentary about Brits buying property in this nasty little dictatorship who were complaining about sharp local practice and dodgy contracts regarding their luxury high-rise condos. What the hell did they expect? Everyone should boycott the place, not just writers.

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