Palestinian writer stranded and fears arrest after releasing book with gay character

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Palestinian says he is unable to go home after a countrywide ban was issued on his new novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old Abbad Yahya says he learned of an arrest warrant in his name while visiting Qatar.

Speaking to AFP news agency he said: “I don’t know what to do. If I go back, I will be arrested, and if I stay here… I can’t stay far from my home and family.”

His book, Crime in Ramallah, explores politics, religion, and homosexuality and Mr Yahya has also been accused of using “sexual terms”.

The novel follows the lives of three young men who work together in a bar where a murder takes place.

One of the three is a gay, and although he is cleared of the crime, the officers who interrogate him realise his sexuality and abuse him. He later moves to France to look for a more accepting society.

The text also criticises leaders of the Palestinian Government, as well as the country’s conservative attitudes.

Literature professor Adel Osta said Mr Yahya “went too far in crossing the red lines of Palestinian society.”

“The novel presented a bad image of the Palestinian Authority, and it uses unfamiliar sexual words which drove the Palestinian Authority to ban it.”

Head of the Palestinian Writers Union Murad Sudani also issued harsh criticism, saying he wrote a “silly novel that violates the national and religious values of the society in order to appease the West and win prizes.”

“The job of the writer in our occupied country is to raise the hope and enlighten people — not to break the national and religious symbols,” he added.

The book’s distributor, Fuad Akleek, also said he was arrested at a bookshop “in a very humiliating way.”