March 29, 2006, 6:36PM Borders, Waldenbooks Won't Carry Magazine
By CAROLYN THOMPSON Associated Press Writer 2006 The Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.
"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.
The magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst, includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.
Islamic tradition bars depiction of Muhammad to prevent idol worship, which is strictly prohibited.
"What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression," said Paul Kurtz, editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry. "Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire ... To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press _ so vital for our democracy."
Bingham said the decision was made before the magazine arrived at the company's stores. Borders Group, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., operates more than 475 Borders and 650 Waldenbooks stores in the United States, though not all regularly carry the magazine.
"We absolutely respect our customers' right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment," Bingham said. "And we absolutely support the rights of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We've just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our stores."
The cartoons, which were reprinted in European and American papers in January and February, sparked a wave of protests around the Islamic world. Protesters were killed in some of the most violent demonstrations and several European embassies were attacked.
On the Net:
Free Inquiry: http://www.freeinquiry.net
March 30, 2006 - San Francisco, CA -
Claiming fears for their customer's safety, both Waldenbooks and Borders bookstore have refused to carry the April/May issue of "Free Inquiry" magazine because it contains a number of the supposedly "Islamophobic" Danish cartoons which set off a worldwide conflagration of Muslim street violence and murder starting in mid-January.
The magazine is published by the Council for Secular Humanism, based in Amherst, Massachusetts.
About the decision, spokesman for Borders, Beth Bingham stated:
"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority."
Regarding the decision by Borders and Waldenbooks to censor from its shelves the current issue of Free Inquiry, editor Paul Kurtz responded:
"What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression...Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire...To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press so vital for our democracy."
On the matter of reciprocity, both of these national bookselling chains however have had no problem selling the anti-Catholic tract the Da Vinci Code for the past two years, most likely an oversight that will be corrected once it is pointed out to them.