Politics, World

Must Read Banned Books – Part II: Religion and Politics

Whether it is a scandalous scene, a reference to homosexuality or even a discussion of radical ideas, people have fought court cases to ban some of the world’s most famous books.

Banned Books Part Deux

We have previously looked at four books, that used to be and, in some cases are still, banned to a certain extent but have become known classics of literature.

These literary works are a few of many that have inspired the masses, created revolutions, and upheavals. They are the cause of transformation all around the world. Then again, since the beginning, the books are regularly banned if they do not fit the mold of the current mindset of the society.

Here are the top 6 banned books banned for political or religious content, that should be read once in a lifetime.

The Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie

“Maybe unhappiness is the continuum through which a human life moves, and joy just a series of blips, of islands in the stream.”

Published in 1988, the fourth and the most controversial novel of Salman Rushdie is inspired in part by the life of Prophet Muhammad. Just like his previous books, The Satanic Verse contains magical realism and contemporary events.

The novel went on to become the Booker Prize finalist and won the 1988 Whitbread Award but also became one of the biggest controversies. From the title to the re-narration of Muhammad life as Mahound and the verses of Quran used, the publication of the book sparked outrage among Muslims.

The indignation the Muslims felt led to the fatwā demanding the death of Rushdie by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of Iran, in February 1989. Rushdie was placed under police protection and survived several failed assassination attempts. There were several similar attacks on various connected individuals like Hitoshi Igarashi (leading, in Igarashi’s case, to death).

With allegations of promoting hate speech towards a religious group and elements that were considered blasphemous and offensive to Islam, The Satanic Verses was banned in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand.

Operation Dark Heart

by Anthony Shaffer

“At DIA, in 1999 and 2000, I was director of Task Force Stratus Ivy. One of my elements was the first undercover cyber unit, where we put officers undercover posing as hackers on the Internet.”

A memoir by retired United States Army Reserve intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Operation Dark Heart details Shaffer’s five months in Afghanistan as a civilian Defence Intelligence Agency officer. The memoir described various clandestine operations in details, including one about N.S.A’s voice surveillance system and contained names of intelligence officers.

In July 2010, the United States Department of Defence along with the CIA, NSA and United States Special Operations Command acknowledged about 250 pages which they claimed as classified information. Involvement of the Pentagon and the Dept. of Defence led to a sudden increase in the interest for the memoir. The first 9500 uncensored copies were destroyed by the publisher answering a request from the Pentagon.

The second edition with censored content released in late September; However, as the 60-70 uncensored advance copies were already distributed, the concealed text is already known. The censored edition is missing several lines and paragraphs, including quite a large portion of the index.

Letters from Burma

by Aung San Suu Kyi

“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.”

Penned by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Letters from Burma is a collection of narratives portraying the quaint, daily life of Burma along with all the political and human rights abuse. The collection of essays is banned in Myanmar since its publication.

Mein Kampf

by Adolf Hitler

“Due to his original special nature, the Jew cannot possess a religious institution, if for no other reason because he lacks idealism in any form, and hence belief in a hereafter is absolutely foreign to him.”

Whether you call it his notorious autobiography or political manifesto, Mein Kampf sold millions of copies under the Nazi Regime. This manifesto describes in detail, Hitler’s thoughts and how a boy who just wanted to paint became an anti-Semite. After his death, copyright of his book was passed down to the state government of Bavaria, which in turn, refused to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany.

Mein Kampf is still banned in some European nations and the Russian Federation for being extremist. Netherlands has forbidden the sale of the book. It was also banned in Guatemala during the regime of Jorge Ubico.

Since 2016 the resale of the book is closely relegated in Germany. In Austria, the law makes it illegal to own any existing copy of the book.

This book is not an inspiring story that should be read because it is extraordinary, but because it educates and helps understand the mindset of the Nazi Regime of the Third Reich.

My Watch

by Olusegun Obasanjo

“Most of what people do well at is what comes easily to them to do…”

The three-volume memoir of former Nigerian President is banned in Nigeria as Obasanjo was highly critical of Nigerian politics. The books were seized by the Nigerian High Court until the libel charges were heard in court. The ban of the book increased the public’s appetite for the revolutions of the decade.

While the Abuja Court banned Obasanjo from publishing his book himself, the higher court banned him from getting someone else to publish his book on his behalf.

The memoir is a great read for someone was wants to know about the workings of Nigerian politics.

Nine Hours to Rama

by Stanley Wolpert

The novel was outright banned in India, describing the story of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the security lapses that have caused it in detail. While the cat and mouse drama keeps the reader hooked, the facts of the book are misguided in many places.

Nathuram Godse’s assassination of Gandhi was due to a difference in ideology, and since Godse’s court statement is unclassified by the government, people see him in a new light.

Banned or not, these books are definitely on my to-be-read pile. After all, one’s man trash can be another man’s treasure!

To be continued in Part III: Sex and Violence

About Shagun Benipal

Writer by day, reader by night, Shagun is known for her love of coins, old photographs and books. She loves to share her thoughts on politics, world and space.

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