Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Monday, October 02, 2006

Australian academics may be allowed to view jihad books

Australian attorney general Phillip Ruddcok has announced that he may allow Australian academics limited viewing of two books recently banned. The two books are Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan, both by the late Sheik Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian- born Islamic radical who was assassinated in 1989 (see Sept. 1 entry of this blog). Responding to protests after the books were removed from the Melbourne University library, Ruddock said he is prepared to discuss "as to whether or not, on a limited basis and a structured basis, material necessary for research can be made available for that particular purpose."

In response to a comment that the books can still be viewed or purchased online, Ruddock said "I wouldn't want to give a legal opinion about whether or not downloading is in fact lawful, but I would certainly say that those who seek to display them, hire them out or sell them, do commit offences."

The two books had been brought to the Melbourne University library by a professor who felt they might be useful in helping his students to understand the concept of jihad. However, when the Australian classification board refused to give the books any classification, that meant they were banned and the Melbourne University library was forced to remove them lest they receive fines of up to $27,000, or even imprisonment of up to two years. A broad coalition of library and literacy organizations has protested the decision.

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