Thursday, March 08, 2007

Banning Makes the World Go Round...

Everybody sing- Banning Makes the World go Round, the World Go Round, the World Go Round- Banning Makes the World Go Round, It Makes the World Go Round!

Hamas bans Palestinian book

By Mohammed Daraghmeh and Dalia Nammari
Associated Press | March 6, 2007

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Hamas-run Education Ministry has ordered an anthology of Palestinian folk tales pulled from school libraries, reportedly over mild sexual innuendo, the most direct attempt by the Islamic militants to impose their beliefs on Palestinian society.

The book ban angered and worried many Palestinians, who have feared that Hamas would use its victory in last year's election to remake the Palestinian territories according to its hard-line interpretation of Islam.

The 400-page anthology of 45 folk tales narrated by Palestinian women was first published in English in 1989 by the University of California at Berkeley. It was put together by Sharif Kanaana, a novelist and anthropology professor at the West Bank's Bir Zeit University, and by Ibrahim Muhawi, a teacher of Arabic literature and the theory of translation.

Kanaana said yesterday he believes "The Little Bird," a story in a chapter titled "Sexual Awakening and Courtship," was among reasons the book was banned because it mentions private parts. In their notes, the authors say that the bird in the story is a symbol of femininity and that sexual subjects are a principal source of humor in Palestinian folklore.

West Bank novelist Zakariya Mohammed said he feared Hamas's decision to ban the book "Speak Bird, Speak Again" was only the beginning and urged intellectuals to act. "If we don't stand up to the Islamists now, they won't stop confiscating books, songs, and folklore," he said.

Education Minister Nasser Shaer confirmed that the ministry ordered the book pulled from the school libraries, saying it is "full of clear sexual expressions."

However, Shaer denied the books were destroyed.

A senior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the issue with reporters, said 1,500 copies of the book had been pulled from school libraries and destroyed.

Hanan Ashrawi, an independent lawmaker and former Cabinet minister, said the decision to pull the book was "outrageous."

"If this is what is to come, it is extremely alarming," she said.

With Hamas slated to retain the Education Ministry under a power-sharing agreement with the more secular Fatah Party, Ashrawi called for creation of an independent body to deal with arts and education.

"Education and culture and social issues should not be handled by anybody that has a closed, ideological, doctrinal attitude," she said. "It should be in the hands of professionals."

Since taking office last year, Hamas, which advocates an Islamic Palestinian state, has largely shied away from trying to force its mores on Palestinian society. Some analysts speculated the group was too busy trying to deal with international sanctions and keep its government from collapsing to focus on banning alcohol or other similar measures.

However, in recent months Hamas-controlled ministries have begun forcing women to put on head scarves to enter. And two years ago, Hamas officials in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya sparked fears of a culture crackdown by banning a local music festival, saying the mingling of men and women at
such an event was forbidden by Islam.

In a letter sent to the Nablus school district last month, the Education Ministry said "Speak Bird, Speak Again" must be removed within a week. The letter did not explain why the book was considered objectionable.

Excerpts of the letter were read to the Associated Press by a Nablus school official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The book was first published in English. A French version, published by UNESCO, followed in 1997, and an Arabic edition in 2001, said Kanaana, who lives in Ramallah. After the Arabic edition was published, the Palestinian Culture Ministry requested 3,000 copies and had them distributed in schools, Kanaana said.

Kanaana said another of the 45 tales also contained what some might consider vague sexual innuendo . "This is our heritage; this is our life," he said of the stories.


Thomas said...


It isn't just Hamas. This is where I teach. I taught this child.
It is so freaking stupid


Colonel Colonel said...

Thomas- I think the two sentences that stand out for me are-

"If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

and "It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451."

I also see that the district is willing to assign an alternate book, but this guy wants it banned completely because it offends him.

On a lighter note- I went to high school at CCHS. Of course, it was Concord-Carlisle High School in Mass., not Caney Creek High School in Texas, but small world. I don't remember seeing Vern there....

catalyst said...

What is going on in this world? There seem to be a rash of, let's call them "vermisms" of late. Has somebody been turning over rocks?

Colonel Colonel said...

Catalyst- it seems they are crawling out from under rocks everywhere, doesn't it? Why, the More-Moral-Than-God Squad has even gone after Harry Potter...

Mike said...

I think there may be a basic fault with this whole freedom of speech thing. Some people need to just sit down and shut the hell up.

Colonel Colonel said...

Mike- it's true: there are people who would like to tell other people what to say, and you just can't allow people to say things like that!

Well, I mean, unless I agree with them, of course. That's not censorship- it's common sense.

Colonel Colonel said...

Actually, the quote I was trying to paraphrase came from Tom Leher-

"There are people around who do not love their fellow man- and I HATE people like that!"

Cissy Strutt said...

He also said
"Yes for Paradise the Southland is my nominee
Just give me a hamhock and a grit of hominy".

Don't know what that adds to the discussion, but I need a laff in these censorious days.

and always remember
"Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice,
Unless you get a good percentage of her price."

Colonel Colonel said...


"Spring is here!
Spring is here!
Life is skittles
and life is beer!

But there's one thing that
makes Spring complete for me-
That makes every Spring day
a treat for me-

All the world seems in tune,
on a Spring afternoon,
when we're poisoning pigeons
in the park!"