Thursday, September 23, 2004

Banned Book Week, Part 2

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Following up on yesterday's post about the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens and Salman Rushdie, here's a few more details on the banning of The Satanic Verses, from the Forbidden Library:

The Satanic Verses. Salman Rushdie. Viking. Banned in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Malaysia, Qatar, Indonesia, South Africa, and India due to its criticism of Islam. Burned in West Yorkshire, England (1989) and temporarily withdrawn from two bookstores on the advice of police. Five people died in riots against the book in Pakistan. Another man died a day later in Kashmir. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, stating, "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses, which is against Islam, the prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, have been sentenced to death." Challenged at the Wichita, Kans. Public Library (1989) because it is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed."

And just to add a bit of cross-cultural historical perspective:

The Talmud. Soncino Pr. Burned in Cairo, Egypt (1190); Paris, France (1244); and Salamanca, Spain (1490). The Catholic Church in the Middle Ages tried to suppress this work. Pope Gregory IX ordered it burned (1239); Pope Innocent IV ordered King Louis IX of france to burn all copies (1248 and 1254); Pope Benedict XIII ordered the bishops of the Italian dioceses to confiscate all copies (1415); Pope Julius III ordered that Christians reading the Talmud be excommunicated; Pope Clement VIII forbade both "Christians and Jews from owning, reading, buying or circulating Talmudic or Cabbalistic books or other godless writing." (1592)

The Bible. William Tyndale, who partially completed translating the Bible into English, was captured, strangled, and burned at the stake (1536) by opponents of the movement to translate the bible into the vernacular. Beginning around 1830, "family friendly" bibles, including Noah Webster's version (1833) began to appear which had excised passages considered to be indelicate.

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