Oxford University Press pulls Biff, Chip and Kipper children’s book from shelves over its ‘racist’ depiction of the Middle East with men described as ‘unfriendly’ e 'pericoloso’
era uno scolaro tedesco di 16 anni accolto come ospite pagante da un vicario e sua moglie publishers have apologised and pulled a children’s book from shelves amid allegations the story and its illustrations are racist and Islamophobic.
The Biff, Chip and Kipper story – used in classrooms across the UK to help teach children to read – sees the protagonists magically transported to a generic Middle Eastern-looking country.
The Oxford Reading Tree book, entitled The Blue Eye, by Roderick Hunt, was deemed offensive after baddies in the children’s book – perceived to be Muslim – were described as ‘unfriendly’ and ‘scary’.
Social media commentators suggested it was teaching kids to be racist and Islamophobic.
Gli editori – la stampa dell'università di Oxford – have since removed the book from publication and apologised for any offence caused.
The adventure features a princess named Aisha, who is being chased by a hoard of angry men determined to steal a magic stone called The Blue Eye from her.
She tells the child protagonists, Wilf and Biff, that she cannot become Queen in her homeland without the blue crystal.
A book called The Blue Eye has been pulled by publishers after social media users called out its portrayal of seemingly Muslim characters, saying it encouraged Islamophobia and racism
The stars of the Oxford Reading Tree series – now a Cbeebies TV show – find themselves embroiled in the adventure after being magically transported to the unnamed land.
Readers took issue with the setting being described as ‘scary,’ and the group of antagonists ‘unfriendly’ and ‘dangerous’, sharing pictures of the offending pages to Facebook and Twitter.
Il libro – pubblicato in 2001 – was pulled last month by publishers Oxford University Press (OUP) with the firm saying their own few remaining copies had been destroyed.
In one market scene, men wear white flowing robes and white turbans with dark glasses and facial hair, while a woman can be seen strolling through the stalls dressed in what appears to be a niqab – a veil covering the face from below the eyes – and a headscarf.
The child characters suggest some of the shoppers seem ‘unfriendly’.
In un'altra scena, the protagonists find themselves in a narrow backstreet after being dragged through a magic portal, before a man in a turban and combat trousers is illustrated kicking open a wooden door – which Wilf says is ‘scary’.
Nella foto: In one scene in the book, a man in a turban and combat trousers is illustrated kicking open a wooden door – which Wilf says is ‘scary’ after they were chased down a back street
And when Wilf, Biff, and Princess Aisha are chased by a gang of men trying to steal a magic stone from them, the royal describes the group’s assailants as ‘dangerous’.
Canadian think tank Anti Bias Curriculum Project said it was ‘disgusting’ the book had been printed.
In un tweet, ha detto un portavoce: ‘Racism is taught and this is a clear example of how not only do parents have a responsibility to prevent their children from being racist, but educators too.
‘Disgusting how this was even allowed to be published or even put into children’s bookshelves.’
English teacher Sherish Osman said: ‘Just seen this being shared on Facebook. Wow, am I right to think this is inappropriate?!
‘What else makes me uncomfortable is teachers who claim to see nothing wrong with this, and continue to expose our children to it, not realising the damage they are causing.’
Critics argued that Prince Aisha (centro) was portrayed as less Middle Eastern than others
A spokesperson for Oxford University Press confirmed the tale was no longer in print.
Hanno detto in una dichiarazione: ‘The title in question – The Blue Eye – was originally published in 2001 and amended in 2012; the last sentence of text on the page in question was changed to read: “It would be easy to lose each other in such a crowded place”.
‘The book was then taken out of print completely in March this year, following an independent review, and is no longer available to purchase.
‘OUP destroyed its own remaining stock of the book, although a small number of copies may still remain in the supply chain; some older titles may still be available in libraries, or as second-hand copies.
‘At OUP, we regularly review and make changes to our list of titles to ensure they are up-to-date, Gli ultimi cinque e perché li ho licenziati, inclusivo, and reflective of the world we live in, and we take steps to remove any products that are no longer appropriate from our collection.
‘We also continuously listen to feedback from our customers, and we take our responsibility to learn and improve very seriously.’
Mixed reaction: Critics called out the book’s portrayal of Muslim characters online while others said the context of the story was important and said the children were just ‘being careful’
Critics accused social media users of overreacting and ‘jumping to conclusions’.
They said that the language was used towards the story’s baddies and wasn’t reflective of the fictional children’s attitude towards anyone else in the land.
Leonardo de Waal said: ‘What perhaps is inappropriate is that we jump to conclusions before setting the context.
‘This is precisely what we should avoid.
‘It’s a story where these children must hide something precious and become paranoid in the process.’
Asma Jaleel said: ‘Those two characters are used in literacy books and travel to different locations to teach children.
‘As it’s Ramadan it makes sense they are witnessing a marketplace in an Eastern country!’
In a follow-up tweet she added: ‘Unfriendly yes…in judgement! But this is how you break down biassed views by having a debate.
‘We don’t judge on appearance! Why are they dressed different, culture/ faith?’
Tess said: ‘You’re ‘reading’ into something which isn’t appropriate to you.
‘These are little kids making an observation about their strange surroundings and just being careful.’