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Issue 85 – January 2012

Monday 30 January 2012 by Diyana Yosifova

In this issue:

Sreten Ugricic: “What remains of freedom?”
The latest news about Sreten Ugricic’s case

The director of Serbia’s National Library Sreten Ugricic was fired on January 20 after signing a Petition of the Writers Forum of Serbia in support of the Montenegrin official and writer Andrej Nikolaidis accused of disparaging Serbia. Ugricic had been director of the National Library for the last 11 years (since 2001), during which he managed to reposition the library as one of the best in Europe and to turn it into a vibrant place of cultural and literary life. The dismisal of Sreten Ugricic from his post at the National Library is a groundless act of political pressure by the Serbian state.

Sreten Ugricic is a board member of Next Page Foundation since its inception. He has contributed greatly with his original vision and strategic ideas to the foundation’s development throughout the years.

The Writers Forum in Serbia came up with a petition demanding that “the Serbian Government immediately cancels its unconstitutional decision to remove the Director of the Serbian National Library, Sreten Ugricic, which it made solely because he signed the petition of the Writers Forum”. For the first 24 hours the petition was supported by more than 800 people – Serbian writers, university professors, journalists, students and many more simply signed as “građanin – slobodan čovek” /“citizen – a free person”/. There have been as well numerous expressions of international disagreement with the decision of the Government of Serbia – a letter to President Tadic by Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a note of protest by international colleagues of Sreten Ugricic, a note by the Conference of all European National Librarians CENL in Paris, etc. Next Page Foundation stands by the international support for Sreten Ugricic and will keep you updated on the latest news regarding his case.

Here are some more articles on the case of Ugricic in English:

National Library head sacked in wake of controversy by B92

Serbia Library Chief Purged for ‘Backing Terrorism’ by Balkan Insight

I report myself to Ivica Dacic by Dubravka Stojanovic

(JPG) ComiXculture in “Vreme”: Novi libanski strip!

Comics stories produced as part of our comiXculture II project keep being translated and published in various countries. Тhe Serbian Magazine Vreme included a 32-page insert with three stories from the project in its issue #1093. The special edition is called Novi libanski strip!/ New Lebanese Comics and features three Lebanese artists: Lena Merhej, Omar Khouri and Ghadi Ghosn. The publication is available online here.

In the whole Arab world, Lebanon was the second country (after Egypt) where comic magazines started to be regularly published in 1955. As French language is widely used, francophone editions of comics have been present in this country for a long time, too. Recently, a magazine named Samandal (publishing in Arabic, English and French) has become an important outlet for contemporary Lebanese comics. The stories of the three authors published in this booklet - Lena Marhej, Ghadi Ghosn and Omar Khouri - reflect the clashes and overlapping of (multiconfessional) Lebanese culture and European culture (be it the West or the East of the continent). This is also a fine opportunity to present Lebanese comics for the first time in Serbia. As Lebanon is a country with a turbulent and conflicting history (which also includes hundreds of years of Ottoman domination), it may not seem so unfamiliar to readers from the Balkans.
(Sasa Rakezic alias Aleksandar Zograf)

New Books Published:

(JPG) Sökmen, Müge Gürsoy & Ertür, Bașak, eds., Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said, transl. from Turkish into Arabic by Mohammad Ahmad Itani, (Dar Kreidieh Agency, Beirut 2011), supported by Next Page Foundation’s South-South Translations Project

Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said is a collection of writings on the influential intellectual and political campaigner Edward Said. First published by Verso Books in 2008, it is a book of essays by 15 authors, including Akeel Bilgrami, Rashid Khalidi and Elias Khoury. The book was edited by Müge Gürsoy Sökmen and Bașak Ertür. The papers included in the book were all presented at a conference, which took place in Istanbul in May 2007, as a tribute to the deceased professor. Bringing together some of the figures most closely associated with him, the collection examines Said, the public intellectual and literary critic, and his political and intellectual legacy.

(JPG) The Arabic edition was presented at the 55th Beirut International Book Fair. Here’s a brief report on the launch of the book sent by the publisher, Hani Kreidieh:

The book was launched in the middle of the Beirut Book Fair - now in its 55th year - at Biel Exhibition Center in Beirut. The book was advertised in the book fair visitors’ booklet, and was presented to some popular figures in Lebanon, ranging from politicians to Arab ambassadors. They all praised the book, especially for its rich and renowned contributors list.

(JPG) Martez, Irfan, Другарчиња, (National Roma Centrum, Kumanovo 2011), published within Next Page Foundation’s Our Stories Project

Friends (Другарчиња in Macedonian) is a comic strip in Macedonian, based on the narrative of Irfan Martez and illustrated by Frosina Trendafilovska. The comic tells the story of two pupils - the Macedonian Martin and the Roma Reyhan. One day at school, Martin finds his favorite pictures with football players missing and points his finger at Reyhan as the only “gypsy” in the class. Later, Martin finds his pictures and realizes that he has made a mistake. Thanks to his understanding mother, he learns an invaluable lesson to “never judge someone by his clothes or nationality”, apologizes to Reyhan, and the two boys become best другарчиња. Thus, using a very child-friendly approach, the comic book questions discrimination and stereotyping, and the role of parents and education.

The book was promoted in December in Kumanovo by the National Roma Centrum. It will be distributed in mixed schools and in Roma settlements in Macedonia.

The strip is available online. In Sofia, the book can be found in the library of the Cultural and Information Centre of the Republic of Macedonia in Sofia.

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