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.
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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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