Saturday, 25 November 2006

John Dale in a typical mainstream bookstore's kid's section
Lyn Tranter, John Dale's literary agent, says it's "censorship by salesmen". The Weekend Australian reports that Dale's new book, Army of the Pure, has been cancelled by the publisher, Scholastic Australia, because they fear angering Muslims. A young adult title, the book was due to be published soon. Dale is furious.

Scholastic's general manager, publishing, Andrew Berkhut, said the company had canvassed "a broad range of booksellers and library suppliers", who expressed concern that the book featured a Muslim terrorist.

The anxiety is understandable, considering the pasting Danish consulates received in the aftermath of the cartoons scandal. Muslims in Australia have been under pressure lately after the mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, likened normally-dressed Western women to "uncovered meat" that the cats would get at if left outside in the garden. The Hilaly scandal has died down in the media, for the moment, but it is easy to imagine Muslims protesting a book title that slurred them, in today's atmosphere of fear and distrust.

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