British Government orders reverence for the Qur’an
Accordingly, librarians are being told to move the Bible ‘and all holy books’ to the top shelf as well.
The librarians reportedly consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf: ‘This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other’.
This is the sort of story designed to fracture community cohesion and engender ill feeling. It has already led to a lot of anti-Muslim prejudice from the usual reactionary and manifestly bigoted journalists, despite no organisation having been named as the source of the complaints, and no individuals being identified. This story has led to calls for Muslims to ‘go home’, with accusations of ‘outrage’ being their ‘default setting’.
Cranmer agrees with Civitas that books in libraries are simply books to be read; not works to be treated as objects of veneration. He also accords with the assertion that ‘libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs’. In short, one cannot be compelled to treat a textbook with veneration if one does not believe it to be an object worthy of such. It is not the business of libraries or museums to inculcate a sense of what is holy and or to determine what is sanctified and should be set apart.
But all the Daily Mail histrionics about making the Bible ‘inaccessible’, of ‘putting the scriptures beyond reach’ and of a ‘reversion to medieval times’ is utter nonsense. It is concerning to see it all thoughtlessly reproduced verbatim by The Daily Telegraph.
Books on top shelves are eminently reachable. The only offence here is to the Dewey Decimal System.
So Cranmer would like to know how the Hizb ut-Tahrir interpretation of Islam has been permitted to override the official method of book categorisation which has been in use in British libraries for more than a century, and with which British Muslims have hitherto had no problem whatsoever. The only issue of classification with which librarians ought to concern themselves is whether the Qur’an is a religious text or a political one. If it is religious, Dewey places it alongside the Bible, Torah, Adi Granth, Bhagavad Gita and the Wisdom of Yoda. If it is deemed to be a political text, it should be placed alongside Mein Kampf, the Communist Manifesto, the brief pamphlet entitled ‘The Wisdom of Gordon Brown’, or the one-page tract on 'The Moral Superiority of Socialism’.
And Cranmer would also like to point out that it is intrinsic to Islamic worship that only Muslims may touch the Qur’an, and then only after performing wudu – a ritual cleansing.
So could the Secretary of State please explain when washing facilities are to be installed in the nation’s libraries?