A group of high school textbooks in Florida are at the center of a debate on Islam. According to Patriots United and Citizens for National Security, the various textbooks depict Islam in a positive light while portraying Christianity and Judaism negatively. Patriots United formed a local “textbook action team” to challenge the fact that these books are being taught and “students are being taught false information.” Florida is not the first state to have its textbooks challenged. A similar campaign was carried out in Texas in September 2010.
The controversy over The Jewel of Medina, a novel about Muhammad’s youngest wife, Aisha, has taken many forms. Recently, in this press release, Random House announced its decision not to publish the book because of the threat it poses to the company, author Sherry Jones, and more broadly, national security. An excerpt of the novel is available on NPR’s website and a simple Google search will reveal how many people are covering the controversy in the media and contributing original ideas about it, despite the fact that so far the book has not been released in English yet.
In fact, the book has only been officially published in Serbia. Soon after it was released, however, it was removed from shelves and accused of being offensive to Muslims. The debate over free speech is a hot-button issue in the media today. Some think that The Jewel of Medina is a scandal on par with the Danish cartoons of 2005 and The Satanic Verses published in 1988. Even with serious backlash, the book has developed a following and advocates for its release are keeping a level-head despite threats of violence. Pirated copies and unofficial translations of the book led to its re-release in Serbia. Also, The Jewel of Medina is scheduled for official release in England later this month.