PARIS — A bomb scare forced the evacuation of the Paris Book Fair, which was being held amid boycott calls for honouring Israeli writers.
Attendees on Sunday were asked to leave the Porte de Versailles exhibition complex in southern Paris at 5 p.m. local time, Paris police officials said. They said the situation appeared calm.
French radio reported that other fairs taking place at the complex also had been evacuated.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, under tightened security, had inaugurated the event last Thursday night.
“Those who want to burn books, boycott wisdom, prevent reflection, block liberty [and] condemn themselves to blindness,” he said.
Arab nations called for a boycott of the fair, which invited 39 Israeli authors.
In late February, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization asked its 50 member nations not to attend the event. Countries such as Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia backed the boycott.
Approximately 20 pro-Palestinian protesters stood near one entrance on opening night, but the dispute appeared to push many to express their support for Israel by showing up.
“Even if it doesn’t change much, for me it was important to be here tonight and show my real support for Israeli authors,” said Jean Rouaud, a French writer and the 1990 winner of the Goncourt literary prize.
The fair, which typically attracts 200,000 visitors, was scheduled to be open to the public through Wednesday.