More than 100 Libyan writers and intellectuals, including renowned Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, have joined together to condemn Libya security forces' mass seizure of books deemed "erotic" or anti-Islamic.
Coelho's books were among dozens of books imported from Egypt that were seized by the Libyan authorities from a truck heading from Tobruk to Benghazi.
"Contacting the Brazilian embassy. There's little they can do but I can't just sit and watch my books being burned," Coelho tweeted in protest yesterday. Brazil's diplomatic mission to Libya is currently based in neighbouring Tunisia.
Lawyer and activist Azza Maghur, novelist and painter Radhouane Bouchwicha and writer Idriss Al-Tayyib were among those condemning the confiscation.
Included in the seizure were the works by Egyptian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Naguib Mahfouz, Arabic translations of books by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and American writer Dan Brown.
A video of the mass book seizure was posted online where security officials and religious leaders denounced the "cultural invasion," claiming that the books contained information on Christianity and sorcery, as well as erotic material that conflicts with Islam.
Al-Marj and the rest of eastern Libya is currently under the control of the self-declared Libyan National Army under the leadership of Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.
In an open letter, the novelists and intellectuals called the confiscation "intellectual terrorism" and "an attempt to muzzle voices and confiscate opinion and thought."
Similarly the confiscation was condemned on social media with the hashtag "books are read, not confiscated."