A Chicago public school banned a book deemed “Islamophobic,” prompting parents and teachers to protest. Persepolis was written by an Iranian woman who once told a teacher she wanted to become a prophet. The same book has been banned in the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Lebanon.
The Middle Eastern countries reportedly consider Persepolis to be blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith and Islamophobic. The reason the book was suddenly banned at the Chicago school is currently unknown. It is also not known if the decision to rip the book from library shelves impacted just one school or is district wide. A group of parents, teachers, and students from Lane Tech College Prep organized a protest about the book ban on Friday.
Persepolis appeared on the Young Adult Library Association’s “100 Best Books of the Decade” list. A movie made from the book in 2007 was banned in Iran. The author believes the film was banned because women in the book fall in love and do not wear hijabs.
The protests began after all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s book had been removed from the building. Principal Christopher Dignam stated that district officials instructed him to get rid of the Persepolis copies. An email announcing the Chicago book ban protest said the event was being held to support First Amendment rights. The email also referenced the need to support both intellectual and educational freedom.
Network Instructional Support Leaders were reportedly told to physically go into each Chicago school building by Friday to make sure the book removal had taken place. The staffers were also reportedly told to make sure none of the books were left in the library or had been checked out by staff or students.
The staffers were also instructed to “collect” any autobiographic novel by Marjane Satrapi. The building principal also had to confirm that the book was not being used in any classroom.
Principal Dignam maintained that no reason was given for the banning of Persepolis. A follow-up email from the principal appeared to alter some of the earlier instructions about the Chicago book ban. An excerpt from the missive reportedly from Dignam reads:
“Any further challenge or attempt to remove this or any other book from a school library must be guided by the Collection Development policy which outlines the review procedure. This clarification and a copy of the Collection Development policy has been forwarded to all school chiefs.”
A ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1982 prohibits the removal of any books which are already inside school libraries. The court decision does allow districts the right not to use existing books as a part of the curriculum.
How do you feel about the Chicago book ban?