Thursday, May 12, 2005

Banning Books

According to the DAP website the Internal Security Ministry has banned 11 titles dealing with religious topics as being “detrimental to public order”. (Whatever that means!) The DAP of course wants to know why. As should we all.

These were books that were previously available here and one of them Great Religions of the World has been in circulation for more than 30 years and is published by National Geographic. (How subversive can you get?)

Another, A History of God by Karen Armstrong is a study of monotheism over 4,000 years and has been widely used by students of religious studies here. (Armstrong in fact has been honoured by the Islamic Center of Southern California as a bridge builder who promotes understanding among the three faiths.)

The other titles were Mercy Oceans’ Lovestream by Sheikh Nazim Al-Qubrusi, The Cross and the Crescent by Phil Parshall (I bought a copy of it more years ago than I care to remember, at a bookstall in Subang airport!), Messiah War in the Middle East and Road to Armageddon by Grant R. Jeffrey, The Sterling Dictionary of Religion by Amrita Sharma, The Word of Islam by John Alden Williams, Mysterious Facts: Strange World by Richard O’Neill, Mysterious Facts: Gods and Demons by Amanda O’Neill, Women and Islam by Fatima Mernissi, and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong.

A society that bans books is surely a society in trouble.

Convergent ideas always will present a challenge to conventional thinking. But isn't that challenge best met by equipping ourselves intellectually? Isn't this what a knowledge-based society is about - inculcating the ability to think issues through clearly and logically, and to debate rationally? Or is this all just so much lip-service?


Chet said...

Well, now you either have some very rare books in your collection, or you could be in trouble for owning banned books in your collection.

How, ah?

BTW, no critiquing group meet-up this month?

bibliobibuli said...

I had only one of these books years ago and lost it along the way, though I have actually bought much more subversive books from local bookshops including one called "One Hundred Years of Disbelief" which is a history of atheist thought.

The only banned book I possess spends much of its life being read by people who would never bother to pick up a novel at all unless it was banned! Ironic isn't it.

The critiquing yes, we should do soon. Let me contact people and see what suits ...

Nizam Zakaria said...

And now I have a shopping list of books that I should be getting whenever I visit Singapore :)

bibliobibuli said...

Isn't that just it, Nizam? When we hear that something is banned we suddenly want to read it.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't this what a knowledge-based society is about - inculcating the ability to think issues through clearly and logically, and to debate rationally?"

Well.. if you really look at it, sometimes it seems to be more about parading a victim or prosecution complex that it is about thinking or debating rationally. I have honestly never met the type of people who write some of the things online. But they're kinda interesting because they have very interesting opinions (like the guy who thought the Twin Towers were the very epitome of evil) -- you wonder what goes through their heads sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I just dont agree with looked simple words but actually unsounded. What knowledge-based society?. Anything?, any knowledge at all. My mind is set for only the good things to put into. Not like a rubbish bin. For sake of human real needs.