Library urged to ban anti-Israel Urdu novel


Fears have been raised over antisemitic books being stocked by public libraries.

Concern surrounds an Urdu novel, whose cover displays a star of David at the centre of what appears to be an American flag.

It features a Jewish central character called The Storm who is leader of a fictional country that appears to represent Israel, and who seeks world domination.

The book, by Pakistani writer Quaisar Salim and published by Karachi Media Graphics, was borrowed from the Willesden Green library in Brent, north-west London. Another copy is currently on loan at Tooting library in south London.

Its title is translated into English as The Genghis Khan of the 21st century. A review, printed on the back cover, states: “The author has perceived events in the Middle East as a Jewish conspiracy.

“He has also made references to the domination of the Jews in the US society and their role in the framing of the official policies of the super power.

“Israel, which happens to be the focal point of the whole story, is given the name of Judiana.”

One Urdu-speaker, who read the novel, said it was a sophisticated book with points to make about how governments and leaders treat their people.

But he added: “If somebody felt hatred towards Jews, they could use the book to say: ‘See, I’m right about the Jewish conspiracy. This author proves it’.”

Board of Deputies vice-president and defence chair Jonathan Arkush said: “It would be extremely disturbing if such a book was found in a British public library.

“We will be urgently contacting Brent to seek the withdrawal of any such publication immediately.”

But a Brent council spokesperson defended the decision to stock the book.

He said: “Material will not be rejected just because it is considered controversial. We haven’t had any other complaints about this book.

“We follow the industry standard advice from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council by providing a range of stock covering different opinions, perspectives and ideologies in accordance with the law. However we will have no part in promoting literature that is a direct incitement to hatred or violence.”

But Oren Segal, a director at the Anti-Defamation League, said: “This book is absolutely antisemitic. It’s talking about antisemitic conspiracy theories. These words and ideas on a page are very dangerous and can insight extremism.

The book was supplied to Brent by the Co-operative of Indic Library Authorities. They in turn received it from Urdu literature supplier, the Book Centre in Bradford.

Ifikhar Qureshi, from the Book Centre: “We are utterly against literature which discourages racial harmony.”

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