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AP: Textbook with Prophet's sketch withdrawn

June 20, 2006 13:44 IST

A Class IV textbook, which carried a sketch of Prophet Mohammed, was withdrawn by the publisher following protests from Muslims in Hyderabad.

Delhi-based Arkbird Publications withdrew the copies of the textbook in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where these had been dispatched.

"Our intention was not to hurt but to tell a good story to children. All the remaining copies will be destroyed," K B Prasad, director of Arkbird in Andhra Pradesh, said.

In a statement, the publishers noted: "The picture printed in the lesson (on Prophet Mohammed) has become objectionable to the fine sentiments of our Muslim brethren. So, we have decided to recall the book and stop supply and delete the objectionable sketch with immediate effect."

"We also tender our sincere apology to the Muslim brethren for hurting their sentiment. We assure that we have great regard and respect for Muslim community and the religion of Islam," the publishers said, adding, "The lesson 11 'Goodness wins' was introduced with a good intention of making non-Muslim children familiar with the great value of forgiveness and kindness of Prophet Mohammed." 

The Class IV textbook on Moral Values, which is taught in many primary schools in Hyderabad as a compulsory subject under the state syllabus, has a lesson on the Prophet. This year the textbook carried a sketch of Prophet for illustrating a parable of his kindness and tolerance. 

Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen floor leader in the Assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi had threatened to launch an agitation if the textbook was not withdrawn from the market immediately. "After the caricatures of the Prophet in Danish newspapers rocked the entire world, how come the publisher and writer of this book did not realise the implications," he asked.

Though there was nothing objectionable with the tone of the lesson on the Prophet, the accompanying sketch breached an important precept of Islam that the Prophet should never be depicted pictorially, Owaisi pointed out and demanded the arrest of the writer of the lesson and publisher of the textbook for hurting Muslim sentiments. He also wanted the publisher to tender an apology to Muslims.

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad