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Book on Islam ‘racist’

17 February 2007 - In America, a book on Islam in Europe being called racist has caused a controversy. Earlier, in an article at News from Amsterdam, residents of the Bellamy neighbourhood complained about the negative picture that is painted of their neighbourhood.

The book While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The previous finalist, Elliot Weinberger, had the task of announcing the new candidates at a meeting three weeks ago. On that occasion, he said that Bawer had engaged in racism.

He was joined by the president of the Circle, who said he was embarrassed by Bawer’s book being nominated. He spoke of ‘hyperventilated rhetoric’ tipping into ‘Islamophobia’.

A jury member who had voted for nominating the book felt insulted by the criticism of the book. The president of the Circle expects more debate to follow when more board members have read the book. The winner will be announced on 8 March.

Bawer, who has lived in Amsterdam for a while in the early 1990s, writes that reactionary Muslims are increasingly getting a grip on Europe, partly because of their high birth rates. They would plan to introduce Sharia Law here.

In his book, he gives a particularly negative description of the Bellamyplein (photo), where he has lived for a short period. Neighbourhood residents said that they were highly surprised by his description of the square. They thought Bawer must have another square in mind.

Source: New York Times, NRC Handelsblad. See also: Bellamyplein


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