Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Tale of Two Bookstores - and Two Countries

I noticed two news stories today about bookstore censorship.  One took place in Saudi Arabia, the other in New York - and although they are spookily similar in nature, their outcomes are gratifyingly different.  

Example of an illustrate Quran
In New York, a man confronted bookstore employees about the illustrated Quran that was on display in the shop.  According to an Albany television station, the man threatened to put the bookstore "out of business" is his demand was not met.
According to Morrow, a man came into his Saratoga Springs store on Tuesday and threatened to put the company out of business because they had an illustrated copy of the Qur’an on display. He says the man, who he didn’t name, berated an employee and then called the Manchester store and yelled at another worker.
Originally, Morrow wasn’t going to say anything about the incident, but decided to, saying in part, “If terrorism succeeds in closing our minds off, terrorism has succeeded. No more shots need to be fired.”
“We’re engaged in a civil society here and we have to have this conversation,” said Morrow. “If people are going to do this then other people need to know about it.”
And in Saudi Arabia, it is the unpredictable Donald Trump whose book is being kept out of bookshops.  According to the story on, Trump's book will not be offered for sale in at least one of the two largest bookstore chains in that country.
Saudi Arabia-based retail chain Jarir Bookstore has removed books written by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump from its shelves, it said on Tuesday, part of a backlash against his proposal to stop Muslims from entering the United States.
Jarir, part of one of the Gulf kingdom’s biggest retailers, Jarir Marketing Co, announced the move in a Twitter response to another user’s call for a boycott of the Republican front-runner’s books.
“Jarir Bookstore sells books by Donald Trump, who is known for making comments offensive to Muslims and Islam. We ask them please to remove them,” wrote Saudi user Mogatah on Dec. 19, along with a photo of the Arabic-language edition of Trump’s 2009 book “Think Like a Champion.”
“The copies have been removed, we thank you for your comment,” Jarir replied, three days later.
Frankly, I'm not surprised that Trump's book is being outlawed in countries like Saudi Arabia, but I am happy to see that the New York bookstore did not succumb to a similar demand to remove its Quran display.  The societal differences are obvious.  

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