As we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a coloring book publisher, Wayne Bell, is under fire by critics and Muslims over a release that he claims to be a “simplistic, honest tool” to “help educate children on the events of 9/11.”
Inside the covers of the pages include black and white photos ranging from the World Trade Center burning in New York City on Sept. 11 to a Navy SEAL aiming a gun at Osama bin Laden as he hid behind his veiled wife on the night that he was captured and killed earlier this year.
While many defenders of the coloring book — named We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom — are calling it a “patriotic” way of informing younger children about the tragic events that may have heard little to none about it, many critics are bashing the publisher for what many Muslim Americans are calling a “disgusting” portrayal of their religion.
Dawud Walid, a representative for the Michigan Council on American Islamic Relations, feels that in a nation where Islamophobia still is prevalent stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks, depicting Muslims by placing words like “extremist” or “terrorist” along with the accompanied text of coloring pages is in poor taste.
For example, under the photo of a Navy SEAL aiming a gun at bin Laden, an excerpt of the text above it reads: “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.”
Bell defended the excerpt by saying that the “truth is the truth.” He added, “It’s unfortunate that they were all Muslim and that’s the part people want to erase … I don’t know what else you can call them.”
He also notes that that what many are calling the graphic pages aren’t intended for all young audiences and the cover of the coloring book has a PG rating as he feels that the some of the “facts” will be hard for some children to digest.
“It’s designed to be a tool that helps teach children about the facts surrounding 9/11. It’s created with integrity, honesty, reverence and respect and doesn’t shy away from the truth,” Bell said.
Still, Walid argued that not only are the pages within the coloring book graphic, but one of the many drawings that caught his eyes within the coloring book was of a woman mourning with a cross dangling for neck. Walid argued that Muslims were also killed during the Sept. 11 attacks and none were shown being in a positive light also being affected by the attacks, but were just simply shown in a negative tone.
Bell’s publishing company has published coloring books ranging from dinosaurs and zoo animals to President Obama, African Americans, superheroes of the Bible and even the Tea Party. Bell says if he was asked, he would print positive images of the Muslim American community and said that he’d “print it tomorrow.” Walid told ABC News that he’s willing to take him up on that offer and urged him to “do it right now.”