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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 10:06 GMT
Contradiction in Arab cartoon views
Blatantly anti-Semitic literature is on sale in Cairo, just like many other Arab capitals. The BBC News website's Martin Patience reports on the apparent inconsistency in the Egyptian reaction to the Danish cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.

Two hundred metres from the Arab League's headquarters in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, there are two newspaper kiosks on the pavement.

Cairo bookstall
Cairo bookstalls and shops sell anti-Semitic texts
They sell all sorts of Egyptian papers and magazines - including Hijab, a fashion monthly for religious Muslim women showing a cover-girl wearing the latest style of headscarf.

Passing customers can also buy books - trashy romance novels, computer guidebooks, and children's story books.

But on closer inspection, both kiosks openly stock the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic text that purports to be an account of Jewish plans to rule the world, but was actually written by Tsarist secret police in 1905.

They also sell Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf.

West accused

With protests continuing throughout the world over cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammed, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa weighed into the crisis recently, accusing the West of operating "double standards" when it came to freedom of expression.
When Islam is insulted, certain powers... raise the issue of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression should be one yardstick, not two or three
Amr Mousa

"What about freedom of expression when anti-Semitism is involved?" asked Mr Mousa.

"Then it is not freedom of expression. Then it is a crime.

"But when Islam is insulted, certain powers... raise the issue of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression should be one yardstick, not two or three," he said.

But it's clear that some publishers in Egypt do not practise the kind of respect for religious groups that Mr Mousa is calling for from the West.

As numerous commentators have pointed out, in many Arab and Muslim countries anti-Semitism is widespread.

'Nothing to hide'

One of the newspaper sellers, Mohammed Ahmed, insists he has nothing to hide.

"People want to buy the books," says the 32-year-old. "Why shouldn't I sell them?"

He argues that selling the book is "freedom of expression and that liberty is the best way".

At the Sharouk bookstore along the road, Harry Potter fever has taken hold. The shop's windows are crowded with displays of the latest instalment of the series.

But as with the kiosks, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is on sale inside.

Politics not faith

Shop manager Mustapha Said insists that he is respectful of all religions including Judaism.

Ahmad Radwan
Ahmad Radwan, says books offensive to Jews should be banned

While he insists he believes in freedom of speech, he is furious about the cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.

He argues that slandering any religion should be punishable.

But when it comes to selling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, he says: "The book is about politics not about religion. I don't have a problem with books criticising politics."

At the American University of Cairo, many students agree with Mr Said's comments.

But Ahmed Radwan, 20, argues that if Jews are outraged by the book "then it shouldn't be sold."

He adds that Jews should take to the streets in protest about the Protocols.

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