Book News

 2014:Jan-March



  Philosophy of Disbelief...

Bangladesh online book seller censored by death threats


Link Here 21st March 2014
Obisshasher Dorshon Philosophy Disbelief Avijit A popular Bangladeshi online bookstore has stopped selling books by a well-known writer after an Islamic militant issued death threats on Facebook to the website's owner.

Rokomari.com said in statement that it has stopped selling books authored by Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born engineer and author who is currently living in the United States. Roy pioneered the popular Bangladeshi online blogging site Freethinker and rose to prominence with his books on philosophy, scientific thought and human rights issues.

The decision to withdraw his books was prompted by death threats posted to Facebook by Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an Islamist extremist allegedly linked to the hardline Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami.

Farabi accused Roy of defaming Islam and the religious character Mohammed and accused Rokomari.com chairman Mahmudul Hasan Sohag of promoting atheism by selling Roy's books. In his Facebook post, Farabi specified the office address of Rokomari.com and called upon his Islamist friends in the adjacent locality to attack. He also told Sohag that he would suffer the same fate as Ahmed Rajib Haider, a popular blogger known by the psuedonym Thaba Baba, who was hacked to death last year by machete-wielding Islamic militants.

Rokomari.com released a statement saying:

A review committee has already started working to shape a policy under which no book that raises controversy will be shown on our site.

Roy commented:

My books are mostly on modern science and philosophy. These are not the books criticizing religious scriptures or any particular religion. They are mainly scientific books having references from reputed journals, books and newspapers.

He added that his books have never generated complaints over their content and that one of his books was on Bangladesh's annual best sellers' list.

 

 Update: Chief Book Censor McCarthy...

Ireland appoints a new book censorship board


Link Here 19th March 2014  full story: Book Censorship in Ireland...Minister for censorship investigated by how own censor board

Laura Alan Shatter ebook A new book censorship board has been appointed by the Government with the sole purpose of reviewing Justice Minister Alan Shatter's novel Laura .

The minister's fictional tale of a married politician involved in a secret affair is the only book to be reported to the Censorship of Publications Boards in the last five years.

The office is due to be abolished by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan. But beforehand it must determine if Shatter's novel is suitable for sale in Ireland.

The board's chairman will be Cork solicitor Shane McCarthy and the other members are barrister Sinead Prunty, lecturer Noelle O'Connor, librarian Georgina Byrne, and retired policeman Philip Moynihan.

 

 Offsite Article: Some authors believe that One-star Amazon reviews amount to 'bullying'...


Link Here 18th March 2014
amazon logo Author Anne Rice petitions: 'Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum Participation'

See article from newstatesman.com

 

 Update: Riyadh International Book Censorship Fair 2014...

10,000 copies of 420 books seized at Saudi censorship event


Link Here 17th March 2014
Mahmoud Darwish Hala Khamos Nassar Saudi censors have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. The local Okaz daily reported that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated more than 10,000 copies of 420 books during the exhibition.

Local news website Sabq.org reported that members of the kingdom's notorious religious police had protested at blasphemous passages in works by the late Darwish, widely considered one of the greatest Arab poets, pressing organisers to withdraw all his books from the fair. Other banned books include:

  • Works by Iraq's most famous modern poet, Badr Shaker al-Sayyab
  • Iraqi poet, Abdul Wahab al-Bayati
  • Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso.
  • When will the Saudi Woman Drive a Car? by Abdullah al-Alami,
  • The History of Hijab
  • Feminism in Islam.
  • Books by Azmi Bishara, a former Arab Israeli MP who left the Jewish state in 2007
  • Revolution , a book by Wael Ghonim, a secular Egyptian and former Google executive who became an icon of the country's 2011 uprising

 

  Qatar Recommends...

Love Comes Later, a novel by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar


Link Here 16th March 2014
Love Comes Later Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar A new novel by an English professor has been banned there with little explanation for the reason.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar  said her book, Love Comes Later , highlights the dilemmas facing those from traditional societies with modern ambitions. She said she offered to consider a separate edition for Qatar when the book was submitted to the ministry of culture for approval, but received no reply.

Although one Qatari media report focused on a single kiss, Rajakumar did not speculate on the reason for the censorship:

The distributor's agent told me the officials told him, the book was banned because it was about 'Qatar and Qataris,' she said by email. They did not further elaborate to me or to the distributor.

The decision to ban the book for sale in Qatar does not prevent the rest of the world from reading it or my writing it. Nor did the content prevent the dozen or so Qatari male and female citizens from reading early drafts, offering ideas, or supporting the book even now.

On her website Rajakumar said she wrote Love Comes Later knowing there was a possibility it would not be published in the country where it was set. So she tried to write within the sensibilities of the public culture, which means the big three objections of sex, atheism and politics are not included in her examination of life in Qatar for modern twentysomething Qataris. She writes:

There's a death by car accident; reluctant engagements; difficult conversations with parents; and of course, one passionate kiss

 

 Update: Ultra-Ludicrous...

Malaysian bans a Ultraman comic book that uses the word 'Allah'


Link Here 9th March 2014  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia
Ultraman Tiga 1 v Malaysia has banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word Allah to describe the Japanese action hero.

The Home Ministry claimed in a statement that the Malay-edition of Ultraman, The Ultra Power contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals. It claimed Ultraman is idolised by many children and equating the lead character, Ultraman King, with Allah would especially confuse Muslim children and damage their faith .

The government demands that the word Allah should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and tempt them to convert. It also warned that use of the word can provoke the community and threaten public safety.

Ultraman is a fictional Japanese superhero who fights monsters and first appeared on television in the 1960s. A line in the book said Ultraman is considered and respected as Allah, or the Elder, to all ultra heroes .

 

 Updated: Naked Prudery...

Politician adds prudery to political correctness over children's book with nude drawings of ordinary people


Link Here 27th February 2014
Tous a poil Claire Franek A strange prudishness has seized a section of political opinion in France. The leader of the main centre-right opposition party, Jean-François Copé, declared on television last week that his "blood ran cold" when he read a children's book called Tous à poil ( All in the Buff ).

The book has comical drawings of ordinary people, policemen, bakers, and teachers, taking off their clothes. Its aim is to teach small children not to be obsessed with perfect bodies.

According to Copé, the book is being forced on primary school children as part of a campaign by an ideologically rigid socialist government to subvert traditional attitudes to gender and the family.

Tous à poil had sold only 1,000 copies before Copé's comments on television made it sound like a blend of the Marquis de Sade and Karl Marx for five-year-olds. Sales have since rocketed and the book is now the second best-selling French-language book on Amazon.

Copé's remarks have been widely mocked by in French media. The French are, after all, supposed to be relaxed about nudity; there is hardly a French movie without a nude scene; and French advertisers use female bodies (always perfect) to sell everything from cars to pasta.

All this would be mildly amusing if the remarks were not part of a campaign to radicalise the political debate in France along moral and cultural "identity" lines. Copé was trying, clumsily, to hitch himself to a bandwagon launched in recent months by ultra-Catholic conservatives and by the extreme nationalist right.


Update: French booksellers pose naked to support children's book on nudity

27th February 2013. See article from theguardian.com

After a children's book showing people naked was attacked by politicans of France's UMP party, a group of publishers and booksellers decided to register their displeasure, by posing naked (apart from strategically placed books that is).

Jean-François Copé appeared on television earlier this month to denounce Tous à Poil, a children's picture book in which characters including a policeman and a school teacher are shown getting undressed, and naked, before plunging into the sea. The authors, Claire Franek and Marc Daniau, wrote it to take the shame out of being naked. But Copé, president of France's centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire party, said that when he saw the book, he was outraged.

His comments backfired, sending the book racing to the top of bestseller lists in France, and drawing widespread condemnation, with minister for education Vincent Peillon calling Copé a spokesperson for extremist groups. .

 

 Updated: The Hindus: An Alternative History...

Prescriptive Hindus get book banned after taking easy offence


Link Here 24th February 2014
Hindus Alternative History Wendy Doniger The publisher Penguin has been accused of cowardice after it agreed to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of a widely-acclaimed book on Hinduism to settle a civil claim from a Hindu extremist group.

The book, The Hindus, An Alternative History , by respected American academic Wendy Doniger, was published in 2009 ironically to try and offset the view that the religion is prescriptive and shame-based and to reveal compassionate and tolerant roots.

But it provoked an angry response from Hindu extremist groups who said it took a Christian missionary approach to denigrate the faith and defamed revered religious characters.

Soon after its publication, a civil case was launched by six complainants led by Dina Nath Batra. Doniger's book had intended to show the Hindu religion in a poor light and had been disrespectful of its Gods and Goddesses, he argued.

His group's claim cited the book's cover jacket which shows Lord Krishna sitting on the buttocks of a naked woman, surrounded by naked women. He claimed that the picture had attempted to ridicule, humiliate and defame the Hindus and denigrate the Hindu traditions .

Penguin was accused of surrender and cowardice by commentators and freedom of expression campaigners after copies of the settlement were released. Under the terms of the deal, Penguin agreed to stop the distribution and sale of the book in India and destroy all remaining copies of the book. In exchange, Batra and his fellow litigants agreed to drop all civil and criminal cases against the publisher.

Doniger told friends in India she was angry about the settlement and indicated she had not been consulted about it in advance. She said For all the people who have expressed outrage over this, I am deeply grateful, she told friends by email. She said she did not believe it would be possible to stop people buying the book online, although it did not appear possible today to purchase the book on Amazon from India or via local rivals.

Update: Calling for Penguin to oppose the censorship

24th February 2013. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

A group of leading Indian and international academics, including Ashis Nandy, Partha Chatterjee, Romila Thapar and Martha Nussbaum, have initiated a petition on change.org urging Penguin to:

Contest the suit against The Hindus through the higher courts, to ensure that a strong precedent upholding freedom of expression be established.

The petition also urged lawmakers, jurists and the legal bureaucracy to undertake a revision of Indian penal laws to protect works of serious academic and artistic merit from motivated, malicious and frivolous litigation .

 

  Naked Prudery...

Politician adds prudery to political correctness over children's book with nude drawings of ordinary people


Link Here 16th February 2014
Tous a poil Claire Franek A strange prudishness has seized a section of political opinion in France. The leader of the main centre-right opposition party, Jean-François Copé, declared on television last week that his "blood ran cold" when he read a children's book called Tous à poil ( All in the Buff ).

The book has comical drawings of ordinary people, policemen, bakers, and teachers, taking off their clothes. Its aim is to teach small children not to be obsessed with perfect bodies.

According to Copé, the book is being forced on primary school children as part of a campaign by an ideologically rigid socialist government to subvert traditional attitudes to gender and the family.

Tous à poil had sold only 1,000 copies before Copé's comments on television made it sound like a blend of the Marquis de Sade and Karl Marx for five-year-olds. Sales have since rocketed and the book is now the second best-selling French-language book on Amazon.

Copé's remarks have been widely mocked by in French media. The French are, after all, supposed to be relaxed about nudity; there is hardly a French movie without a nude scene; and French advertisers use female bodies (always perfect) to sell everything from cars to pasta.

All this would be mildly amusing if the remarks were not part of a campaign to radicalise the political debate in France along moral and cultural "identity" lines. Copé was trying, clumsily, to hitch himself to a bandwagon launched in recent months by ultra-Catholic conservatives and by the extreme nationalist right.

 

  When Mr Dig Bites...

Telegraph culture editor calls for BBFC style age classification for sweary books (and so most likely to be 15 rated)


Link Here 8th February 2014
When Dog Bites Brian Conaghan

 

 Update: Not So Extreme...

Koran unbanned in Russia


Link Here 1st February 2014  full story: Book Censorship in Russia...Religious works found to be extremist
Russia flag A Krasnodar court has overturned a ban on a popular Russian translation of the Koran (though the court has still not issued the written ruling), while a Tver court has overturned a ban in Russia on the main Jehovah's Witness international website.

Yet bans on religious literature amid controversial extremism accusations continue, Forum 18 News Service notes. Four more Jehovah's Witness texts were ruled extremist in December 2013. And no moves have taken place to lift a less publicised extremism ban on 68 Islamic texts, Nirzhigit Dolubayev, a lawyer representing one of the publishers in the case, told Forum 18.

Fines continue on mosques and individuals for possessing any of the 68 books - which include collections of hadiths [sayings of the religious character Mohammed].

 

 Update: Uneducated Censorship...

Pakistan's Peshawar province bans the book launch of Malala Yousafzai's memoir


Link Here 30th January 2014
Am Malala Stood Education Taliban An event in north-west Pakistan to launch Malala Yousafzai's memoir was cancelled after pressure from Peshawar local officials, organisers say.

Dr Khadim Hussain of the Bacha Khan Education Trust told BBC Urdu that the ban was direct intervention by the provincial government .

Malala Yousafzai was 14 years old when she was shot in the head by muslim extremists of the Taliban in the north-western Swat valley in October 2012 because of her campaign to promote girls' education.

She and her family now live in the British city of Birmingham where she has been receiving treatment. She was not expected to attend the launch.

Malala has described the memoir, I am Malala, as her own story - and that of millions of others denied the chance to go to school.

 

 Update: Into the Censor Infested River...

New Zealand book censors raise rating of prize winning children's book to R14 on nutter appeal


Link Here 19th January 2014  full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans

Into River Ted Dawe ebook Into the River is a book by New Zealand author Ted Dawe. In September 2013 it was classified as unrestricted by the Classification Office after being submitted by the Department of Internal Affairs because of a complaint from a member of the public.

An application was made to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a review of the Classification Office's decision. The Board of Review classified the book as R14.

The novel is centred on Te Arepa Santos, a boy from a fictional village on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand/Aotearoa. He wins a scholarship to a boys' boarding school in Auckland, and the transition is difficult. He forges friendships, finds enemies, and discovers that his Maori identity is discounted and a disadvantage. He endures the bullying that comes from this, as well as that meted out to new boys, and sees what happens when that bullying goes too far. There are confusing encounters with sex and a growing understanding of intimacy, the use of drugs, peer pressure, deep racism, grief and death. Decision summary

The Film and Literature Board of Review noted in its decision that the book contains themes of bullying, underage casual and unsafe sex, drug taking and other matters that people may find offensive and upsetting. The Board considered that the book is likely to educate and inform young adults about the potentially negative consequences that can follow from involvement in casual sex, underage drinking, drug taking, crime, violence and bullying. The Board also considered that the book serves a useful social purpose in raising these issues for thought and debate and creating a context which may help young adults think more deeply about the immediate and long term consequences of choices they may be called upon to make.

However, there are scenes in the book that are powerful and disturbing, and in the opinion of the Board run a real risk of shocking and disturbing young readers. Whilst those aged 14 and above are likely to have a level of maturity that enables them to deal with this, those below the age of 14 may not.

The Film and Literature Board of Review classified the book as objectionable except if the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 14 years. The Board also requires that any further publications of the book carry the same descriptive note as the present publication, reading parental advisory explicit content .

The Board of Review decision replaces the one by the Classification Office. It is illegal for anyone, including parents and guardians, to supply Into the River to anyone under the age of 14.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who lodged the complaint about the book, said it was disappointing a restricted work was an award-winning children's book.

 

  Belarus Further Damages Its Bad Reputation...

By banning a book written by a political prisoner


Link Here 18th January 2014
enlightened by belarus ales bialiatski According to Belarusian authorities, a book by political prisoner Ales Bialiatski can damage the image of the country. Bialiatski is serving four-and-a-half years in prison, nominally for tax evasion, but the international community see his prison sentence as punishment for his principled stance in support of human rights.

In July 2013 Customs confiscated 40 copies of Bialiatski's book Enlightened by Belarus , as they were being transferred from Lithuania, where they had been published, to Belarus. The book has been included on a blacklist of goods that are barred from the territory of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. After it was first inspected, authorities concluded it could be harmful for the image of the Republic of Belarus .

Enlightened by Belarus is a collection of essays on the history of the Belarusian literature. Several essays contain critical assessments of literary works by Belarusian political prisoners, like Uladzimir Niakliaeu and Aliaksandr Fiaduta.

Ales introduced a notion of 'Belarusian prison literature'. In fact his book points out that for decades writers in Belarus have been persecuted and put in prisons, from the times of the Czar Russia and Soviet repression, to present day, says Tatsiana Raviaka, adding that the state censors cannot allow free distribution of the views on the literary process presented in Bialiatski's book. She and her colleagues from Human Rights Centre Viasna are going to appeal the ban.

 

  Censored by Mandatory Annotation...

Hitler's Mein Kampf has become an internet best seller, causing a few alarm bells to ring


Link Here 17th January 2014
Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has becoming an exceedingly successful international e-book bestseller.  Originally published in 1925, the Nazi ideology has become a bona fide online sensation, writes Fox News , topping Amazon's Propaganda & Political Psychology section.

Chris Faraone of Vocativ.com wrote that for about a year now, Hitler's book has been on the list of best-sellers on iTunes, where and that currently two different digital versions of the book rank 12th and 15th on the Politics & Current Events chart.

In January 2013, a 99 cent Kindle version began to do well among World War II books and Historical Biographies & Memoirs. Its publisher, a California company called Elite Minds Inc.,told Vocativ , Sales are great, but noted that he faces a moral dilemma in promotion in that he fears advocating something that could be misused.

Vocativ speculated that Mein Kampf's popularity on the Internet is connected to the anonymous nature of e-purchases, and to curiosity. I think I waited 45 years to read Hitler's words, writes one reviewer. Another sums it up thusly: Curiosity killed me to get this book.

Since showing up in Asia 15 years ago, Mein Kampf has sold in excess of 100,000 copies in India. In 2005, the debut of the first-ever Turkish translation sold 100,000 copies in the first two months.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, thinks online sellers should only sell annotated versions of the book. We know that the facts of life are that you cannot censor any idea from the Internet, it's simply impossible, Cooper told FoxNews.com . But an annotated version is important for someone who doesn't know the context of the time and so that they're not reading pure genocidal hate.

The glorification of Hitler, Cooper claims, is being seen among Muslims and Arabs in the Netherlands, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, Japan, India and South Korea.

 

  Book Burners...

Muslim extremists burn down historic library after being offended by a pamphlet left in one of the books


Link Here 6th January 2014
Lebanon flag Ancient books in a historic library in the Lebanese city of Tripoli have been torched by extremist muslims, after a pamphlet supposedly insulting religion was found inside one of the books.

Security sources say that up to 78,000 books, many irreplaceable ancient Muslim and Christian texts and manuscripts, are now unsalvageable.

The Al-Saeh library in the Serali neighborhood was set a-blaze after a local gang to objection to a sheet apparently insulting to the religious character Mohammed, found hidden in the pages of one of the library books.

The library's curator, Greek Orthodox priest Ibrahim Sarrouj, received threats from unidentified people who accused him of writing the article, according the Jordan News Agency.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the arson attack:

We denounce the burning of the library and reject any harm being done to Tripoli and its people, as it has been, and will remain, the city of the world and of intellectuals.