Publisher recalls encyclopaedia after Prophet Muhammad drawing sparks uproar

Publisher recalls encyclopaedia after Prophet Muhammad drawing sparks uproar

Muslim pupils at a primary school in Mombasa, coastal Kenya. (FILE/AFP/ANDREW KASUKU)

The publisher of a primary school encyclopaedia whose depiction of Prophet Muhammad caused an uproar in sections of the Muslim community has recalled the book.

Mentor Publishing Company’s Grade 2 Encyclopaedia contained an illustration of Islam’s founder in its IRE section and asked learners to colour in the drawing, angering Muslim parents and clerics who termed it blasphemous.

In a letter to the Muslim community dated October 9, the company apologised for the “grave mistake” and said it had reached out to the Muslim Education Council, Jamia Mosque Nairobi, Masjid Al Armen and other stakeholders on the matter.

“We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for the error concerning our Grade 1 Mentor Encyclopedia books, where we inadvertently inserted a drawing and mistakenly identified it as the image of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),” Mentor Publishing’s director Josephine Wanjuki said.

Consequently, the publisher said they were deleting the offensive drawing from all subsequent editions of the book going forward.

“All the Mentor Encyclopedia Grade 2 books in our stores will not be released to the market,” said the company, adding “All the Mentor Encyclopedia Grade 2 books already at the bookstores, wholesalers and retailers including street vendors are being recalled.”

Teachers, students and schools with copies of the current book were advised to return them to the publisher.

“We will continue liaising with the Muslim Education Council to ensure compliance,” the company added.

Islam is the second largest faith in Kenya, representing around 11 per cent of the population, according to the 2019 census.

While Islam’s holy book, the Quran, does not explicitly ban images of the Prophet Muhammad, the leader’s depictions have been termed offensive by most clerics and faithful who say tradition forbids images of Prophet Muhammad and Allah (God).

There is a reference to not depicting Allah and they believe the same applies to Prophet Muhammad.


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