Intellectuals, artists boycott UAE after announcing deal with Israel

Sep 10,2020

‘It would be a sin to get an Emirati prize,’ an author said following the declaration of the normalisation deal

The UAE running behind Israeli occupation state and selling out its dignity to normalise times prompted backlash from Arab intellectuals and artists.

Several of the Arab intellectuals and artists announced their boycott for the Emirati-backed cultural awards and events to support the Palestinian cause.

“I announce that I am withdrawing from your exhibition,” Palestinian photographer Mohamed Badarne wrote to the Sharjah Art Foundation, based in one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE.

“As a people under occupation, we must take a stand against anything to do with reconciliation with the (Israeli) occupier,” Berlin-based Badarne told AFP.

Palestinians see the deal as a betrayal, breaking a consensus that normalisation with the Israeli occupationshould come only after the Palestinian question has been resolved

Cultural figures from Algeria, Iraq, Oman and Tunisia, as well as the UAE condemned the accord so that they rejected prizes.

“A sad and catastrophic day,” Emirati writer Dhabiya Khamis wrote, following US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of the deal on August 13.

“No to normalisation between the Israeli occupation and the Emirates and the countries of the Arabian Gulf!” Khamis added. “Israel is the enemy of the entire Arab nation.”

Moroccan writer Zohra Ramij has announced the withdrawal of her latest novel from the competition, while Moroccan poet Mohamed Bennis resigned from its organising committee.

“It would be a sin to get an Emirati prize,” said Palestinian author Ahmed Abu Salim, who withdrew his entry from the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).

The competition, which began in 2007 and is mentored by the Booker Prize Foundation in London, is funded by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.

It awards $50,000 to the winner and $10,000 each to those shortlisted.

“I am an intellectual supporter of the Palestinian cause, whatever the price to pay,” Salim told AFP.

Several former prize winners and jury members, including Palestinian intellectual Khaled Hroub, wrote an open letter to IPAF trustees demanding a halt to Emirati funding.

“We call on the current Board of Trustees to assume its historical cultural responsibility in protecting the award by ending Emirati funding, in order to preserve the award’s credibility and independence,” the letter read.

Palestine Post 24 and AFP

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