Algerian intellectuals have signed a petition urging that a ban on Egyptian books at Algeria’s international book fair be revoked, after the two countries fell out over a football match.

Intellectuals across Algeria, Europe and North America signed the petition, initiated by Ahmed Bensaada, a physicist and author living in Canada, condemning a decision by the book fair’s organisers to exclude Egyptian literature from its next event.

The intellectuals found “abhorrent this unilateral attempt to punish Egyptian literature and Algerian readers whereas the Algerian team continued to play football – the initial source of the conflict – with the Egpytian team”, according to the petition published on the internet and in several Algeria newspapers.

The diplomatic spat occurred during the teams’ qualification bid in November for the 2010 World Cup.

On November 12, a bus transporting the Algerian team in Cairo was pelted with stones, injuring three players. Two days later in Algeria, Egyptian business premises were attacked and their houses were ransacked.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak paid a “friendly” visit to Algiers in June in an effort to resolve the dispute.

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