24 December 2011
I read many comics when young, primarily those published by DC Comics, such as Superman, Batman, Justice League of America etc. However one grows out of such things and modern graphic novels hold little appeal for me.
Nevertheless I purchased "Holy Terror" because it was mentioned on my daily email from CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) of the USA. CAIR were very concerned that this graphic novel gave an unfairly negative view of Islam and Muslims and had the capacity to damage community relations in America. I cannot find any reference to that email or the book on the CAIR website but there is some commentary on the Islamophobia Today website.
Frank Miller is the author of such famous graphic novels as "300", "Sin City" and "Batman: Dark Knight Returns", all of which have been filmed. I never criticise a book without reading it so out of curiosity I bought it. Although it is 120 pages long, the book was quite quick to read as it consists primarily of large amounts of graphics with a small amount of dialogue and other text. The graphics are mostly black and white and drawn with breathless energy. The first five pages can be seen on the Internet and there is a trailer on www.wired.com. The book is dedicated to Theo Van Gogh and apparently Frank Miller has stated that it is his response to 9/11.
Having read the book, I can only describe it as anti-Muslim propaganda of the worst type. The Muslim characters portrayed are uniformly bloodthirsty, deceitful and misogynistic, displaying total hatred of non-Muslims. The book is no more respectful of mainstream American politicians and people like President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are all drawn disparagingly.
At the time of writing there were nine reviews on the UK Amazon website, accessible from the icon at the foot of the page, mostly highly critical. From that page you can also link through to the Amazon USA website where there are 58 reviews, more mixed than the UK site.
Unless you want to read violent anti-Muslim propaganda, I suggest leaving this book well alone. It is not worth either the price or the small amount of time that it takes to read it.
I am very pleased that, as far as I am aware, there has been no reaction of any kind to the book. The only reference to it that I have seen is the email from CAIR that led to my buying it. Ignoring the book is the appropriate reaction from both Muslims and non-Muslims who care about community harmony.
This non-reaction appears to indicate a growing sophistication amongst Muslims in Britain. When "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie was first published in the late 1980s, there was a massive outcry amongst British Muslims with book burnings as well as a fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie's death being issued by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. In my view if the book had simply been ignored, it would have sunk without trace. As it was, the Muslim reaction made it into a worldwide bestseller.
In late 2008 the book "Jewel of Medina" by Sherry Jones had the potential to create a similar furore as many Muslims found it deeply upsetting. (I cannot comment on the book itself as I have never read it.) However within the Muslim Council of Britain I and several others argued successfully that the correct response to the book was to ignore it and that is largely what happened. Accordingly the publication of “Jewel of Medina” was largely a non-event, and few have heard of it.
In my view books which have no serious intellectual content but which are upsetting to Muslims should simply be ignored. In many cases it may be the deliberate intent of the writer to seek an outcry from Muslims as a way of maximising sales. Of course if there is a serious argument being made in the book, it should be considered on its merits with an appropriate intellectual response, but not one that simply assist sales of unhelpful literature.