“Extremist Islamic Literature” in London’s Public Libraries

Meg Holle, a student at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS), recently alerted students in the Public Libraries course at SLAIS about an intellectual freedom issue brewing in public libraries serving large Muslim communities in London, England. Meg wrote:

A report by the Centre for Social Cohesion, a right-leaning think tank, has determined “public libraries are stocking hundreds of Islamic books by advocates of ‘holy war,’ with many glorifying acts of terrorism.” (Gardham, Telegraph). I found a number of articles on this with varying degrees of information and more importantly, ways of presenting this information. Probably most significantly, it made the BBC program “Newsnight” in a 10-minute exposé featuring a spokesperson for the Centre for Social Cohesion, an Islamic scholar from Oxford University, zero librarians or library users, an ominous soundtrack and several scare-mongering Jihadist quotes from the available books.

Below are a few resources that address the controversy:

Radical books in London libraries (BBC article)

Radical books in London libraries (BBC Newsnight video report)

Islamic ‘holy war’ books stay on public library shelves, Town Hall insists (East London Advertiser)

A library book on bomb-making, sir? You’ll find it under Religion (Daily Mail — opinion piece)


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