Librarians are being told to move the Bible to the top shelf to avoid giving offence to followers of Islam.
Muslims have complained of finding the Koran on lower shelves, saying it should be put above commonplace things.So officials have responded with guidance, backed by ministers, that all holy books should be treated equally and go on the top shelf together.
This means that Christian works, which also have immense historical and literary value, will be kept out of the reach and sight of many readers.The guidance was published by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, a quango answering to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
It said Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, in keeping with the belief that the Koran is the all-important word of God.
The report said the city’s librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf.
‘This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other,’ the guidance added.
Critics said such a move implied religious works should be treated as objects of veneration rather than as books to be read. Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said:
‘Libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs.‘This is violating the principles of librarianship and it is part of an insidious trend.’
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