Censor Anti-Islamic Books?
by Daniel Pipes
On April 25, 2004, FaithWorks publishers issued a 992-page book by Craig Winn, Prophet of Doom: Islam's Terrorist Dogma, In Muhammad's Own Words. So eager are they to get Winn's thoughts out that the book is both available in hardback and downloadable from the Internet.
As the title suggests, the study is a relentless attack on the Prophet Muhammad. As a summary puts it: "Islam is a caustic blend of regurgitated paganism and twisted Bible stories. Muhammad, its lone prophet, conceived his religion solely to satiate his lust for power, sex, and money. He was a terrorist." Strong stuff, to be sure, but also part of a Christian polemical legacy going back to the very origins of Islam.
Islamists have responded by trying to censor the book. An online petition, "Stop Hatred & Misinformation about the Best of Creation (peace be upon him)" with (as of today) 56,713 signatures finds that the book
The petition was sponsored by members of the "Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center," which describes itself as an organization "following the principles, methods and scholarship of the early Muslim." It goes on to call for "the removal of all copies of this book from all bookstores – regular or online and for the cessation of its publication immediately."
The above petition soon spawned a response titled "First Amendment freedoms include the right to criticize Islam and Muhammad." Currently signed by 3,116 petitioners, it reads in part:
The assault on Prophet of Doom also takes more threatening forms. Here is a review posted at amazon.com on Nov. 21:
Comment: The virtues or faults of Prophet of Doom are not the issue here. The question is whether Islam may be publicly critiqued or not in the United States. (November 22, 2004)
Jan. 3, 2005 update: The threats keep pouring in. Winn posts one an e-mail that arrived today from "The Jealous Muslim Group" that includes this statement (with mistakes left unfixed):
Comment: There is the possibility that this and the amazon.com threat are provocations, posted by those interested discrediting Muslims and Islam. But they have a disquieting similarity to authenticated threats and therefore have to be taken seriously.
Aug. 22 2005 update: I pursue this general topic further at "Talking Freely about the Enemy."
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