Muslim Plot Against Short Christians Shock!

From Appendix C of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s new report, Guidance on the Management of Controversial Material in Public Libraries:

5. Stocking of religious texts

5.1 Leicester City policy on the shelving of the Koran and other religious texts Some libraries in Leicester have received complaints about the Koran not being placed on the top shelves in libraries. Some customers go along the shelves and place the Koran so it is shelved higher than other books. This action arises from the practice in many Muslim homes of the Koran being placed on a high shelf above commonplace things, as it is the word of God.

The authority consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester about this matter, and they advised that all religious texts should be kept on a top shelf together. This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other.

A reasonable argument against:

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said:

‘Libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs.

‘This is violating the principles of librarianship and it is part of an insidious trend.’

I agree – but then he has to ruin it:

He said the principle that books should be available to everyone was established in Europe in the Middle Ages.

‘One of the central planks of the Protestant Reformation was that everybody should have access to the Bible,’ he added.

Apparently the Federation’s advice (offered when asked, and not a demand) wasn’t a welcome sign that local Muslims accept religious pluralism – in fact it’s a plot to stop short people reading the Bible! The UK Christian Right is quick to whip up some resentment:

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: ‘It is disappointing if the policy of libraries is dictated by the practices of one group.

‘It is particularly disappointing if this is done to put the scriptures beyond reach…’

And if that’s not enough, a preposterous quote from Chris Sugden:

Canon Chris Sugden, of the Anglican Mainstream movement, said: ‘This does appear to be a reversion to medieval times, when the Bible could be read only by priests in Latin and was not to be defiled by ordinary people reading it.

Of course it’s not “done to put the scriptures beyond reach” – the top shelves of modern public libraries in the UK are reasonably low, and I believe most have an ingenious system by which persons known as “library assistants” can be called upon to pass materials down to customers with difficulties.

I don’t want religious sensitivity encroaching on what should be a neutral study space in this way, but why does the debate have to be carried on at this base and hysterical level by people who should know better?