Anti-terrorism colouring book a bit of a bombCome on, do you really have to ask?
Misty Harris, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, April 10, 2008
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball sensation who converted to Islam and assumed an Arabic name, does not want to blow you up.
Neither do Iranian-American space tourist Anousheh Ansari or Swiss Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan.
Such is the message of a new children's colouring book, provocatively titled I Don't Want to Blow You Up, that aims to teach tolerance through drawings and descriptions of people whose names or appearance -- think head scarves and turbans -- might evoke fears of terrorism in youngsters.
"The inspiration comes from living in this post-9/11 world, looking around and seeing racial profiling happening all around us," says co-author F. Bowman Hastie
While the colouring book has generally been well-received since its February release, some experts questions its effectiveness.
"We applaud and support any initiative that can help people understand each other better," said Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the [PLO-friendly] Canadian Arab Federation. "But quite frankly, terrorism happens everywhere. Why is it portrayed in this book as being unique to Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians?"
Thomas Butko, an expert on terrorism and the Middle East, believes the authors' positive intentions are undercut by the negative assumption that children immediately suspect all Muslims wish to cause them harm.You don't say...
"I understand what they're trying to do, but it almost could exacerbate the situation," says Mr. Butko, a political science professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
...Child psychologist Leora Kuttner suggests the biggest misstep may be the book's phrasing -- from the continued use of "don't," a word children often misinterpret or ignore altogetherIndeed.
Representatives of Mr. Abdul-Jabbar have contacted the publisher to protest over the unauthorized use of the basketball legend's image in a book his manager says he "does not endorse."It all sounds like the job was a bit too hasty, if you ask me. (HT: Catfur)