LONDON (Arabnews): A title in a popular series of children’s books has been axed by its publisher Oxford University Press over Islamophobia allegations.
The “Biff, Chip and Kipper” series by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta has served as a popular introduction to reading for children in the UK and around the world. It includes more than 800 titles.
But one book, “The Blue Eye,” originally published in 2001, was the subject of criticism online last month over its depictions of the Middle East.
The book tells the story of children magically traveling to a foreign land, which appears to be based on Middle Eastern stereotypes. A souq is described as “scary,” and local Muslim characters are deemed “unfriendly.”
Users on social media criticized the content, with one teacher saying: “Just seen this being shared on Facebook. Wow, am I right to think this is inappropriate?!”
Another user said: “What makes this so bad is that this book is used in school to teach kids to read. So they also get to learn how to be Islamophobic at the same time.”
Ash Ahmad, a diversity, equity, inclusion and wellbeing consultant, said on LinkedIn: “I’m sure, like myself, many of you have read the books when you were younger and most people loved them, but because we were so young we couldn’t see what was wrong with them.
“So inappropriate. People were brainwashed from a young age to stay away from Muslims labeled as scary people.”
An OUP spokesman said: “As part of a continuous review of our publishing, OUP takes the decision to put stories out of print when they are deemed to fall short of the high standards of diversity and inclusivity we wish to promote through our publishing. In addition to this, titles may be amended or updated.
“We regularly review our backlist and make decisions internally and in conjunction with the authors about different titles on a case-by-case basis and for a variety of reasons.
“These regular reviews are undertaken internally by the Oxford publishing team as well as with independent expert reviewers and we look at specific themes and issues, either as a result of user feedback or developments in current affairs.”