Chicago Tribune: Critics say 9/11 coloring book crosses the line

 A coloring book unsuitable for younger children?

“We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom” depicts scenes from 9/11 and the killing of the attacks’ mastermind, Osama bin Laden. Its publisher has given it a PG rating, saying children 10 and younger probably should use it with a parent or teacher at their side.

But some Muslims believe the book is inappropriate for any child, insisting that it reinforces anti-Muslim stereotypes.

Wayne Bell, publisher of Really Big Coloring Books Inc. in St. Louis, said the 36-page “graphic novel” is intended to meet a demand by parents and teachers to explain the attacks and their aftermath as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

The book begins with bin Laden plotting the attacks and ends with a Navy SEAL shooting bin Laden as he hides behind what appears to be Muslim woman.

Bell said the book is mild compared with the graphic video games children play or even footage of the attacks that shows people plunging from the World Trade Center towers.

“It’s a generic black-and-white coloring book with tender language for the children and their parents,” Bell said. “It’s designed as a teaching and learning tool, and it’s a memorial tribute to the families of 9/11.”

But Amina Sharif, communications director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the book depicts the events of 9/11 and the aftermath in a “slanted” manner, painting Muslims in broad strokes and failing to distinguish extremist radicals from the majority of Muslims. "We Shall Never Forget 9/11" coloring book. Image from Really Big Coloring Books ® Inc

“It’s hateful, inflammatory and completely inappropriate for children or anyone for that matter,” Sharif said.

Bell said the book simply depicts the truth: Muslim extremists were responsible for the attacks.

“The book itself has nothing to do with the Muslim faith,” Bell said. “It talks about the radical Islamist jihadist Osama bin Laden and his 19 terrorists and what they do to America.”


copyright Chicago Tribune 2011