Saudi government bans Arabic sf novel HWJN, raids bookstores

A trusted source who asks to remain anonymous writes, "Scores of messages on Twitter, primarily in Arabic, called attention to Tuesday's suppression by the Saudi Arabian government of H W J N, a science fiction novel by Ibraheem Abbas. The book was charged with 'blasphemy and devil-worshiping,' according to one source, which also notes that the apparent instigator of the ban was a post on Facebook in which the writer accused the book of referencing jinni and of leading teenage girls to experiment with Ouija boards."

There has been no official statement from the Saudi government, but the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice raided several bookshops that were selling the book and demanded the books be taken off the shelf. In one store, they left a hand written letter on official letterhead demanding that the bookshop manager show up the next day at their offices. Results of that meeting, if it occurred, have not been announced.

The book itself is a science-fiction novel, available in both Arabic and in English translation as H W J N that treats jinni as science fictional beings that co-exist with humanity, and tells of a romance between a human and a jinn.

The translator and co-author, Yasser Bahjatt, attended the World Science Fiction Convention this August in San Antonio, appearing on panels and selling copies of the English edition. The book has received complimentary reviews on Amazon and elsewhere from science fiction writers such as Gregory Benford.

The messages on Twitter use the hashtag #حوجن or #HWJN.