Publisher pulls children's book Biff, Chip and Kipper over 'Islamophobic' content
An installment of the widely popular children’s book series Biff, Chip and Kipper will no longer be for sale following accusations of racist depictions of Muslims, The Guardian has reported.
The story, titled The Blue Eye, drew widespread criticism for portraying the Middle East as a "scary place", and will no longer be printed by the book’s publisher Oxford University Press (OUP).
The publisher said they will also destroy any remaining copies.
In the story, the characters Wilf and Biff are magically transported to a foreign land after acquiring a set of marbles, and find themselves in what appears to be a marketplace in the Middle East.
In the illustration, one character points out that "the people don’t seem very friendly" and that the characters "should stay together".
The people in question are depicted wearing stereotypical clothing, with women wearing the niqab face covering, and men sporting turbans and long beards.
Just seen this being shared on Facebook. Wow, am I right to think this is inappropriate?! pic.twitter.com/CcQm4hpBde— sherish_o (@sherish_o) April 19, 2022
The story follows a princess named Aisha, who is continuously being chased by men- who are described as dangerous- for a magic stone which she seeks to retrieve.
Wilf and Biff also describe the town as "scary" and say that the marketplace contained "strange things" in other scenes.
Social media users labelled the choice of words as "inappropriate" and "disturbing", assuch depictions can embed Islamophobia and misconceptions of other cultures in children reading the book.
If you read this you would understand the subliminal message portraying Muslim culture and brown skinned people as unfriendly. Men with beard and women in veil are expected to be seen as bad, teaches the book. https://t.co/B4xrSjQFv2— Nimra Hakeem Baloch (@nimrahakeem) April 20, 2022
The series, which was created in 1986, is a favourite in primary schools, and has often been used to aid children with reading.
Meanwhile, Oxford University Press said that the sentence referring to the characters as "unfriendly" was replaced with "it would be easy to lose each other in such a crowded place" in 2012.
OUP also stated that the book is no longer in print as of March and unavailable for purchase, according to The Guardian. Though it is understood that some copies may still exist in libraries or as second-hand copies.
The New Arab has contacted Oxford University Press for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.