Islamophobic ALA Banned Books Week Poster


Thus far I’ve seen little in the way of active controversy over this ill-advised ALA poster celebrating 2015’s Banned Books Week. There were a couple of messages recently on the SRRT email discussion list, which brought this to my attention. Clearly, the image links suppression of information with the religion of Islam, depicting a woman whose eyes are showing through her niqab. No one denies that there is suppression of information in a number of countries where Islam is the national religion, but this image implies an identity between the religion and the practice of censorship. I think most of us can think of some American muslims who would take offense at that. Perhaps they are even members of the American Library Association.

I’m surprised that ALA actually put this poster up for sale.

3 comments on “Islamophobic ALA Banned Books Week Poster

  1. I’m not sure how folks are linking this image to Islam.

    The woman is clearly not wearing a niqab, a hijab, a headscarf, or any religious garb. You can clearly see her hair (which is loose) both above and below the book. You can see a plunging neckline, cleavage covered with lace – that doesn’t seem to jive with a Islam = repression vibe either.

    The graphic designer likely chose a black dress and dark hair because it allows the colors on the book to stand out more.

    The red circle with the cut out for the eyes is more clearly reminiscent of street signs – specifically the ‘no entry’ sign which is a red circle bisected with a white line.

  2. The point is not that the woman is being shown as “wearing” the niqab, but that the niqab (face-covered with eyes peering through a slit) is graphically _imposed_ on a woman dressed Western-style The implication is suggestive of the idea that “sharia law” is an imminent threat to intellectual freedom in the US, a favorite trope of Islamaphobia. Using the “no entry” sign as a face covering on a woman, evoking the niqab, in a poster warning of restrictions of the freedom to read, targets minority Islam and Muslims as the threat to intellectual freedom in the US, a majority Christian country, and one where _real_ threats to intellectual freedom come from highly organized and well-funded Christian fundamentalist groups and Christian organizations opposed to the separation of Church and State.

  3. Even if that was not the intention, it was something that should have been caught by whoever was in charge of deciding on promotional material used in their campaign. If it’s not downright islamophobic, it’s at the very least a HUGE mistake. However, the “sharia law” implication mentioned by Mark does seem pretty heavily implied. Also, if they were so concerned about colors standing out more, they would have done something about the “readstricted” (in a super cliché typeface, nonetheless) text going over her fingers.

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