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I've got a problem with articles like this...

Reader comment on item: Cairene Book Covers

Submitted by Kevin Morrow (United States), Aug 11, 2008 at 16:22

And it is this:

By the end of this article, all the information that we have is that in some bookstores in Cairo both in the '70s and recently, there are some nasty, anti-semitic, loony Islamist-rant kind of books sitting next to good books.

But there is no context provided, only a few stray comments made in a vacuum. Other than being appalled and sickened at the squalid, ugly thinking of a handful of Arabic-speaking authors, why am I supposed to be alarmed? Or how alarmed ought I to be? Are all bookstores in Cairo like this? What about bookstores in the rest of the Arab world?

This reminds me of Jeff Jacoby's recent article in Sunday's Boston Globe about the rise of honor killings in the U.S. by Muslim immigrants, in which he cites three incidents of honor killing in the United States, but doesn't relate any statistics about the big picture (how many murders committed by Muslim immigrants in the U.S. last year, for instance, could be categorized as honor killings?), doesn't really give us an idea of how concerned we ought to be. Clearly, he is implying we ought to be alarmed, and by not giving any facts and figures to paint the big picture, he suggests by innuendo (or really by neglecting to give context) that an epidemic of honor killings in the US is immanent, and that we should be VERY alarmed.

Similarly, when I read Dr. Pipes' article, there appeared to be an insinuation offered through bringing up a few scary examples of wack-job books without giving more context that this is how it is in ALL bookstores throughout the Muslim world. What else can I conclude without more information?

As it is, I am suspicious of this conclusion (if in fact this is the conclusion we are meant to draw...who knows if it is, but some of the posters who have commented on the article certainly seem to have gotten this conclusion from it). I have heard reports over the years of Palestinian schoolchildren's textbooks being full of ugly, anti-semitic, anti-Christian statements (Jews and Christians are pigs and monkeys, etc., etc.). In my five months in Palestinian East Jerusalem and Bethlehem inside the West Bank, I never heard people saying such things, ever!

At worst, there is probably a shameful, passive toleration of such things in Muslim culture by the typical man on the street. This is definitely a major failing on the part of Muslim culture. There should be more outrage by average Muslim citizens (just like we ought to be outraged at a bookstore in the US that would sell Ku Klux Klan literature) and there isn't. But to imply as this article seems to that all Muslims are vicious anti-semites and paranoid anti-western conspiracy theorists is a nonsensical thesis without evidence.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

These titles and covers are indeed entirely typical of Arabic books in any bookstore carrying political titles.

I agree that a full-scale analysis of Arabic-language books would trump this impressionistic display, but absent the former, the latter has real value.

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Reader comments (19) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Anti Semitic books in Cairo [78 words]Doris GuttentagOct 27, 2008 16:03141157
Anti US and Antisemetic books in Egypt [94 words]TazeenAug 19, 2008 04:01137002
1I've got a problem with articles like this... [471 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Kevin MorrowAug 11, 2008 16:22136591
freedom of press [14 words]Emad MuhiydeenovichAug 10, 2008 17:19136547
No, it's called hypocrisy!!! [78 words]JaladhiAug 14, 2008 11:45136547
Egyptians and books in modern classical Arabic [468 words]dhimmi no moreAug 2, 2008 07:40136112
The role of books in Muslim countries [118 words]UgriAug 2, 2008 06:07136109
Egyptian sensationalism [285 words]Rebecca MouldsAug 1, 2008 10:32136057
Ever read the Guardian, Kos, Move on, Counterpunch etcetera? [47 words]Nick GoodAug 1, 2008 07:09136049
The non-political books are also revealing [135 words]JJAug 1, 2008 02:22136035
You Can Buy Looney Books in Any Country [17 words]C.Jul 31, 2008 18:24136016
You Can Buy Looney Books in Any Country? [64 words]KristaAug 1, 2008 20:34136016
Here's a really looney book [98 words]onlytruthAug 9, 2008 12:42136016
So Much for the Camp David "Peace" in 1979. [149 words]YnnatchkahJul 31, 2008 14:55136007
Books and Propaganda [300 words]SammishJul 31, 2008 11:36135970
getting the other viewpoint [118 words]G.VishvasAug 1, 2008 07:31135970
what other viewpoint? [112 words]SammishAug 4, 2008 15:43135970
why read books when you have the internet? [35 words]CandideAug 5, 2008 02:44135970
let the criticised have a say too [118 words]G.VishvasAug 6, 2008 04:40135970

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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