Children's book from Biff, Chip and Kipper series cancelled by Oxford publishers as 'Muslims labelled scary'

The book, titled "The Blue Eye", has been withdrawn by the Oxford University Press (OUP) after receiving complaints about its portrayal of Muslim people

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A children’s book from the well-known series Biff, Chip and Kipper has been cancelled following racism complaints.

The book, titled "The Blue Eye", has been withdrawn by the Oxford University Press (OUP) after complaints about its portrayal of Muslim people.

Within the book, the characters walk through a street market, with suggestions that it is in the Middle East where men wear turbans and women hijabs.

During the section of the book, Biff says: “Let’s stay together. The people don’t seem very friendly.”

While another character, named Wilf added: “I don’t like this place. It’s scary.”

The Blue Eye book
The Blue Eye book
Oxford University Press has withdrawn the book
Oxford University Press has withdrawn the book

And now the OUP has confirmed that it has ceased print on the book following an independent review.

It said in a statement: “The book was taken out of print completely in March this year following an independent review, and is no longer available to purchase.

“OUP destroyed its own remaining stock of the book, although a small number of copies may still remain in the supply chain. Some older titles may still be available in libraries, or as second-hand copies.

“At OUP, we regularly review and make changes to our list of titles to ensure they are up-to-date, diverse, inclusive and reflective of the world we live in, and we take steps to remove any products that are no longer appropriate.

“We also continuously listen to feedback from customers, and we take our responsibility to learn and improve very seriously.

“We sincerely apologise for the offence this book has caused.”

The OUP added that the book was one of several to be withdrawn, but did not name any of the others.

It continued: “As part of a continuous review of our publishing, OUP takes the decision to put stories out of print when they are deemed to fall short of the high standards of diversity and inclusivity we wish to promote through our publishing. In addition to this, titles may be amended or updated.

“We regularly review our backlist and make decisions internally and in conjunction with the authors about different titles on a case-by-case basis and for a variety of reasons.

“These regular reviews are undertaken internally by the Oxford publishing team as well as with independent expert reviewers and we look at specific themes and issues, either as a result of user feedback or developments in current affairs.”

While diversity, equity, inclusion and wellbeing consultant, Ash Ahmad has backed the decision to ban the book, labelling it “so inappropriate”.

Mr Ahmad said on LinkedIn: “I’m sure, like myself, many of you have read Biff and Chipper books when you were younger and most people loved them, but because we were so young we couldn’t see what was wrong with them.

“So inappropriate. People were brainwashed from a young age to stay away from Muslims (who were) labelled as scary people.”