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Banned Book Week
in US

Since time immemorial, man has tried to control the thought process of others around him. So when I heard of Banned Book Week in USA, I was surprised. I mean, this is a country which prides itself on Freedom of Speech.

Even worse, the list of of books that were banned: To Kill a Mockingbird (which is part of my daughter's English studies, here in Pakistan.)

The Catcher in The Rye, Call of The Wild, Harry Potter, Gulliver's travels, The Lost Paradise, Gone With The Wind, Don Quixote...the list goes on; all form part of this illustrious club.

                                     book in chains  I remember when the hullabaloo over THE SATANIC VERSES, was at its height in Pakistan. The mullahs were howling for Rushdie's blood, excerpts translated and published to show the filth he had written -- I made a request to my dad. He was going onvacations to UK and I asked him to bring me a copy. The conservative Muslim that he is, he raised his eyebrows, but said nothing else.

Obviously The Satanic Verses had been banned in Pakistan.

Both of us read it. I can vouch that it didnt change my views on Islam or the Prophet. Of course, Rushdie had written things that had no bearing on reality, and in a language that was derogatory. But in a 500 page book, it came right at the end. And I could barely survive the nonsense he created in the first 400. It was an absurd book that shouldnt have been published. If only because of the low quality of writing.

So read a banned book and form your own impressions.

I have just started Nana by Emile Zola. It was banned in England.

And , of course, Sarah Palin has added to the fire. The story says she asked a librarian to ban certain books.

Some people never learn.

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Attempts at banning books in the US have an embarrassment a joke to the majority of us, and -- call me an "elite" -- but something that tends to happen in religious evangelical backwaters. Since I'm from the northeast, it's something we always pictured happening in places where the Ku Klux Clan still operates.

I'm fascinated that you read "The Satanic Verses". I also read it when it was first published, but I confess, I didn't understand a single word since back then I didn't have the slightest idea what the Islamic faith was all about. I've still got that hardcover book and now and then I glance over and think I should re-read it now that I have at least a rudimentary understanding of the religion.

The funny thing about the banned books list is that if the people inclined to ban books actually read many of them, the list would be long enough to circle the globe. The only books that seem to make it onto the list are those that are typically introduced into American schools by some well-meaning teacher.

My prediction on Sarah Palin is that there is a halfway decent chance she could withdraw for the good of her political party. I am still charged after the debate last night (did you see it?) and can only hope that undecideds were able to recognize John McCain's tired, worn out foreign policy stances for what they are -- artifacts from a bygone era. I hope that it caught the attention of more than a few people that Obama mentioned two, if not three times that it was a priority to restore the reputation of my country in the world community.

I don't agree with every single thing that Obama says, but he gives me a sense of hope for a more unified America and a chance at healing our relationships with other nations.

The most troubling relationship I see right now, unfortunately, is that of the US and Pakistan. It worries me profoundly. I wish I understood Pakistani politics better. I wish I felt the US did.

Hello Lisa,
You have put so much into this reply, a lot of it worth thinking.

After I posted the msg above, I thought what do I really remember, as my reaction to The Satanic Verses. And it was this, that people who didnt know the facts of Islam, due to no fault of theirs, would misunderstand history and Islam.
I would rather say, there are tons of resources out there that are more balanced and give a better understanding of the faith. I'll be happy to provide you with some links.

I did see the Obama- Mccain debate. Here are my quick thoughts. I think Obama is the guy for America. However he has no idea, based on what he said about Pakistan, about the realities that exist in Pakistan. As a matter of fact Mccain gave a better presentation of facts visavis Pakistan.

Here is what I found troubling with Obama's statement: Quote: "We need to support the people of Pakistan, not dictators ;like we have done for the last 10 years. This is how we can win the hearts and minds of Pakistanis." Please note I forget the exact words.
Then he says, : "If we have to, we shall go into Pakistan with our own forces and carry out military strikes, if the Pakistan govt is unwilling or unable to do so."

Here is my problem:
1 You cannot win hearts and minds by carrying out raids in Pakistan.
2 Obama has no idea of the terrain in the Tribal areas or the realities of how these tribes operate.
3 So far US Predator drones have carried out scores of attacks in the border areas. They have killed dozens of innocent children and women. There is not a single high level militant they have caught/killed.
4 This leads me to doubt the quality of ground intelligence they have.
5 Each civilian killed creates a score of revenge seekers.
What is the solution: At least not the above.

It is probably a combination of
1 Eradicating the poppy trade.
2 Targeting real militants. Not with raids but individual strikes at the leadership based on high quality ground intelligence. Pakistan has this edge, because we belong to this area.
3 Trusting the Pakistan intelligence/army.
4 Providing economic benefits to these underdeveloped areas in the Tribal Belt so that they provider fewer recruits to the militants.

My few cents.

I hope we all are able to figure out what we're talking about when we talk about Pakistan. What you've said makes sense and based on the foreign policy advisors Obama has, I believe he is getting input from people who also know what they're talking about -- in general anyway. Wow, eradicating the poppy trade, no matter where is a sticky tricky proposition. It all is. I guess as someone who doesn't know the area, I'd hope that we could find a way to work with the government of Pakistan to learn how best to work with those tribal factions inclined to support the extremists.

Thanks for your views on this. They mean a lot. This is happening much closer to you than to me and I appreciate the candor.

I hope we can figure this out quickly.

To be fair, Sarah Palin only inquired into banning books. I started into the Satanic Verses once, but didn't get far. I thought Midnight's Children was a beautiful work. He managed to deal with Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism. He may have left out the Parsis, but it's been a few years since I read it.

When I was in high school in Cedar Falls, Iowa, there was a right-wing group that wanted to ban the Fireside Book of Folk Songs because "The Foggy, Foggy Dew" implied premarital sex, and "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" disparaged the work ethic. But Britain changed the movie title of a film based on Woody Guthrie's song to "Hallelujah, I'm a Tramp" due to the British meaning of bum.

Back when I had more time I was going to try to read the Quran using Rumi's poetry as a guide. I was fascinated to learn that the Christian legend of the Seven Sleepers has an entire chapter in the Muslim holy book.

Steve Wylder

Hi Steve,
Steve I guess Sarah Palin is gettingthe flack because of her gag order. She is in a Catch 22, unable to prove or disprove her lack or absence of brain matter.

You did the smart thing by giving up Satanic Verses. I slogged along. That is an interesting anecdote. about the Foggy Foggy Dew and Hallelujah.

I think and I might be entirely wrong, that Rumi has to be read on his own and the Quran on its own. Rumi and others provide varying interpretations and ways to reach the One Almighty. The Quran is the solid template from which these interpreations arise.

Here is a link to a blog run by a friend of mine. This provides a lot of info and input each day on the various Sufis , especially Rumi. Check out:

There are so many typos above, I apologise.

Rumi as Guide

Don't worry about typos. This was my situation: I foud a website with an English translation of the Masnavi. But to make sense of the poems I needed to refer to the Quranic verses they referred to. It seemed like a way to appreciate both. You're probably right in principle. But for someone in the United States, without a real guide to the Quran, it seemed that Rumi could help me interpret the scripture.

Thank you for the link. I checked it out briefly and will come back later.

According to the article in the NY Times, to which I linked today in my blog post about Harry Potter, the only book she actively went after was "Daddy's Roommate," which she targeted as a member of City Council in Wasilla, before she was ever mayor. Which is still one book too many, for me, and her inquiry as mayor as to how to ask for a book to be banned, or what would happen if she asked for one to be banned, shows that she's at least amenable to banning books.

Thanks for this post. I read Satanic Verses because of all the hubbub, but don't recall all that much of the story, really.

I agree that one book is one book too many.

You took the words out of my mouth that just the enquiry shows a certain frame of mind; and not a healthy one in Palin's case.

The Satanic Verses was worth forgetting. I can hardly remember the story, because I guess there wasnt one in the first place.

Thanks for dropping by. Have to rush and join the Eid Party downstairs.
Usman aka reality

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