Group decries textbooks on Islam as inflammatory
By KATHY MATHESON – Mar 17, 2010
PHILADELPHIA — A series of children's textbooks on Islam contains misleading and inflammatory rhetoric about the religion, inaccurately portraying its followers as hostile and deserving of suspicion, according to a Muslim civil liberties group.
The Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is set to begin what it calls a public awareness campaign Wednesday against the "World of Islam" books by Mason Crest Publishing.
"The overall theme of the books is that Muslims are inherently violent, that Islam is a second-rate religion and that one should be wary of Muslims in any society," Moein Khawaja, the chapter's civil rights director, said Tuesday. "These books do not fulfill the mission of a school, which is to educate."
It was not immediately clear where the series is being used, either in classrooms or libraries. But Khawaja said complaints from council chapters across the country lead him to believe it is on bookshelves in about two dozen states.
The publisher, based in the Philadelphia suburb of Broomall, did not return a request for comment.
Among dozens of examples cited by Khawaja, the book "Muslims in America" says that "some Muslims began immigrating to the United States in order to transform American society, sometimes through the use of terrorism." Elsewhere, a picture of two smiling Muslim girls in head scarves appears on a page subtitled "Security Threats."
Mason Crest partnered with the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute to produce the 10-book series, which is designed for ages 10 and older.
Institute president Harvey Sicherman said Tuesday that he is mystified by the reaction to the series, and that the two examples above are taken out of context.
The photo placement was inadvertent, he said, and the caption in no way implies the girls are security threats. The quote about Muslim immigration to America is accurate, Sicherman said.
"Well, yes, some people did come to the United States to commit terrorism, and I don't know how one can quarrel with that sentence," he said.
Khawaja said the problem goes beyond isolated sentences to what he described as the series' overarching anti-Islamic tone and message.
"A book isn't just a set of quotes — it's a conclusion you walk away with," Khawaja said.
He noted a chronology in the book "Islam in Europe" starts with 1988 and lists 10 events, seven of which involve extremist Muslims participating in bombings, hijackings or other violence.
"Muslims have been in Europe for thousands of years," Khawaja said. "This is ridiculous."
Sicherman said a representative from the institute will attend the Muslim group's news conference Wednesday to learn more.