What value is this petition?

There have been calls on various Muslim forums and blogs to sign an online petition against an anti-Islamic book written by one Craig Winn. I’d never heard of this guy until I found a link to this book’s entry on Amazon from the “Niqaabi 4Ever Insha Allah” blog. I immediately did a Google for him, and also did a search on the Heritage Foundation’s TownHall.com website. TownHall is a right-wing site, which has featured an article by Doug Giles, of which more here. There is currently no reference to Winn anywhere on Townhall. So it looks like he’s a fringe crank. The book is issued by a publisher I’ve never heard of called Cricketsong Books; Amazon lists only four books by them, all by either Winn or Ken Power, who has also collaborated with Winn. One is a book about Winn’s bad experiences in the dot-com boom, one is a “future history” based on the Bible, and two (including the present book, Prophet of Doom) are anti-Islam or about “radical Islam”. So Winn couldn’t get a mainstream publisher to put his book out. Amazon records that people who bought this book also bought Robert Spencer’s Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest Growing Faith, and The Dark Side of Islam by one RC Sproul.

In any case, the Rushdie affair makes me suspicious of Muslim petitions aimed at getting books banned or withdrawn from publication. All the controversy Rushdie’s notorious book generated failed to get it pulled from the shelves - it’s still there, because the British literary establishment were determined to ensure that they would not be intimidated into withdrawing a book from publication. In the USA it’s published by Picador and sold openly. In this case, I find it unlikely that anyone not already sympathetic to these ideas will buy Winn’s book; the publishers will certainly will not pull one of only four books they seem to publish, and if the claims in this book are not so obviously stupid as to make them not worth refuting, someone will insha Allah refute it.

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