Borders and Waldenbooks Cave In to Islamist Intimidation
Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.
“For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority,” Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.
The magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst, includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.
Islamic tradition bars depiction of Muhammad to prevent idol worship, which is strictly prohibited.
“What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression,” said Paul Kurtz, editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry. “Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire … To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press — so vital for our democracy.”
Bingham said the decision was made before the magazine arrived at the company’s stores. Borders Group, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., operates more than 475 Borders and 650 Waldenbooks stores in the United States, though not all regularly carry the magazine.
“We absolutely respect our customers’ right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment,” Bingham said. “And we absolutely support the rights of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We’ve just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our stores.”