Not only is Wednesday (Sept. 30) International Blasphemy Rights Day, it’s also midway through Banned Books Week. For millennia, governments and societies have used legal and commercial means to censor ideas and expressions that challenge established beliefs. Here’s a list of books that have been banned around the world for upsetting the status quo.
1. The Bible
Yes, the Bible is full of violence, but that’s not why it’s been banned in many countries. Across Central Asia, publishing, importing and distributing religious literature is restricted to prevent “extremism.” In Malaysia, Malay-language Bibles are prohibited outside the confines of churches to protect “national security.” In North Korea, possessing a Bible is illegalbecause, well, pretty much everything is banned there. Governments often monitor and restrict communities of believers they fear might challenge their rule. They do so by cutting off access to holy scripture and outlawing proselytization, all while pretending to champion freedom of religion or belief in their constitutions. Don’t believe the propaganda. Do keep an eye on Bible balloons dropping the Word of God into hostile territories.
2. The Da Vinci Code
Lebanon banned the Dan Brown thriller in 2004, not for its lack of literary merit but because Catholic leaders took issue with its fictional assertion that (spoiler alert!) Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered her child. “Those things are difficult for us to accept, even if it’s supposed to be fiction,” Father Abdou Abu Kasm, then-president of Lebanon’s Catholic Information Centre, told the BBC after the book was pulled from shelves. “Christianity is not about forgiveness to the point of insulting Jesus Christ.” MARCH, a Lebanese civil rights group, lists “The Da Vinci Code,” “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and “Sophie’s Choice” among dozens of books that have been banned in Lebanon. CONTINUE FOR FULL LIST