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The non-political books are also revealing

Reader comment on item: Cairene Book Covers

Submitted by JJ (United States), Aug 1, 2008 at 02:22

In addition to the anti-Israel and anti-US stuff, Cairo bookstalls are full of books about magic, jinns, Quranic medicine, and other material involving magical thinking and an extreme form of irrationalism. The political material fits in quite well with the low level of most of the rest of the literature.

The other surprising fact is how hard it is to find classical Islamic texts, compared to the ready availability of modern books preaching fundamentalist Islam. Of course much of the classical material is more critical and nuanced, and much less accessible. A similar phenomenon exists in the Haredi world in Israel---there is a proliferation of modern books on meticulous observance, while many of the classical texts are not widely available. (Just try to find a copy of R. Gafah's translation/exegesis of Saadya Gaon, for instance.)

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