EAST CAROLINA – A recent federal grant to provide Michigan libraries with a collection of books, films and other resources about Muslims in the United States and around the world is stirring debates after an Eastern Carolina congressman urged libraries to reject the books.
“It is appalling to me that a federal agency like the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this,” US Rep. Walter Jones told Havelok News.
“It makes zero sense for the US government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations.”
The “Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys” was developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and American Library Association.
The grant would be given to around 50 Michigan libraries and its state humanities council.
Each library will receive 25 books, three films and a year of access to Oxford Islamic Studies Online.
Book titles include: “The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam,” “The Story of the Qur’an,” “Muhammad,” and “A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America.”
The NEH says it wants to provide resources “to enhance libraries’ collections and their capacity to engage audiences” in an attempt to give the public trustworthy resources about Muslim beliefs and practices.
Taking a stand against the federal grant, Jones urged Craven Community College to reject the books.
If Craven Community College accepts the grant, Jones has called on college leaders to follow their policy of providing “balanced” resources for library patrons.
The Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition has committed to donating 25 books on Christian and Jewish heritage.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
A Gallup poll found in August 2011 that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Despite controversy surrounding the grant, officials at Craven Community College welcomed the new books for offering information about US Muslims from a trusted source.
“An institute of higher learning is always looking for ways to navigate a global society,” Craven County Board of Trustees Chairwoman Carol Mattocks said.
Commenting on Jones’ concerns, Mattocks said she has not received the letter from Jones’ office, but is aware it is coming.
“I would like to see the letter and give it due consideration,” she said.
Judy Eurich, director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven College said the college had community support from the New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Carteret County Public Library and Interfaith Refugee Ministry.
She added there was no monetary funding involved from the college, explaining that the college will get the 25 books, a DVD series of short videos about Islamic art and architecture, two films and a one-year subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies online.
“This fits in the mission of the college of improving and enhancing the lives of individuals and communities by providing opportunities to prepare students for a global society,” she said.