John McCarthy Image Credit: Courtesy:John McCarthy

Sharjah: Former hostage John McCarthy, who was held hostage for over five years in Lebanon, will be taking part in the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), to be held from November 4-14 at the Expo Centre.

The British writer-broadcaster was on his first foreign assignment in Lebanon in 1986 when he was abducted and held hostage for 1,943 days.

McCarthy will be part of a SIBF panel discussion titled ‘Writing and Facing the Current Situation’ with Habib Al Sayegh from the UAE and Moni Mohsin, London-based Pakistani author.

His hostage experience was explored in the film Blind Flight. His panel discussion will be held on November 4 from 7.15pm to 8.15pm with Al Sayegh, a leading UAE media personality, journalist and poet. Al Sayegh has been recognised for supporting the Emirates Identity Authority’s strategy and his role in enriching the cultural and media movement.

Also on the panel is Moni Mohsin, a satirical writer and journalist whose best-selling books The Diary of a Social Butterfly and The Return of the Butterfly are based on her long-running column in the Pakistani weekly The Friday Times.

The panel will explore how writing and creativity helps communities overcome the negative impact of conflict and acts of aggression.

McCarthy said: “The thought of thousands and thousands of people coming together to talk about books and share ideas is wonderful. I’m looking forward to meeting people and learning from them. I think that it’s very important in trying to understand how the world works and, therefore, how things might work better.”

McCarthy has worked for the BBC, ITV, Sky Arts and Al Jazeera with a number of BBC radio series to his credit.

He has a special interest in the Middle East. His book You Can’t Hide the Sun: A Journey through Palestine, focuses on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its human cost.

“The extraordinary thing is that even in the most terrible, dangerous or deprived situations, human beings seem able to maintain hope for the future and treat each other with respect and courtesy. That’s a really strong foundation to build from.”

McCarthy is also a patron of Freedom from Torture, a campaigning medical centre for asylum seekers in the UK.