French reading festivities [Archives:2006/999/Opinion]

November 16 2006

By: Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh
I have attentively followed up what Arab press had reported of festivities of reading in France, the country so keen on its language and culture. I wished that we, the Arabs, had just some of this keenness on our language and culture – instead it is exposed to aggression by the Arabs themselves. Those persons, through their behavior, show how much they hate our language constituting the biggest foundation in the process of preserving spiritual and national entity. Without the language they will, in a few years, disintegrated communities and groups more than they are now.

I have been surprised about the talk of the reading festivities France launches every year and I am now aware this country pays much attention to its language and spends billions for the protection and preservation of this language and to try to spread it. I know also that the French citizen's interest in reading, but I was aware reading in this civilized country has seasons and festivities lasting one full month every year covering the capital Paris and all the French cities.

In a previous visit to France I noticed that bookshops are spread in villages as well as large and small cities. I also noticed the differences between villages and towns in Western Europe is almost non-existent as a result of the advancement in those countries and the result of linking the villages to the towns with means of communication and infrastructure. This link is something we are lacking or we never think about and why cultural activities in our Arab countries are mainly confined to capital and large cities. There does not seem any change to alter this image inherited from times of backwardness and deprivation.

I was very pleased with the political festivities that covered our entire country, rural and urban areas, when flags and pictures were seen in every part of Yemen.

I would have been very pleased if the cultural festivities that began in Sana'a, when it was declared capital of Arab culture, would have reached the remotest village in the desert or atop mountains and small towns and villages. They need their share of the book. It would have been a great thing for reading to go to the sons of small towns and villages who are as enthusiast for knowledge as much as their yearning for pure water.

It can be taken for granted to say that the spread of small spots of backwardness in the body of the one nation makes its entire progress impossible.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh is Yemen's prominent poet and intellectual. He is the director of the Yemeni Center for Studies.

Source: 26September Newspaper.