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To uphold Islamic beliefs, people are limited to what they are exposed to so that they cannot think of anything in contrary with Islam. To reach this goal, censorship is used to prevent people from understanding, acting and even thinking of facts that Islam rejects. There are many different ways of censoring in Islam to keep people in the Muslim scholars’ ideal condition of ignorance. One of the most ridiculous methods that truly bothers me is censorship in books, especially in educational books just like my book.

To improve my English, I have taken a Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) course. Learners of English around the world who are taking the CAE course may not have any idea about books published for the same course in Iran. The versions here are not the original. Actually some changes are made before publishing. However, original ones can be found rarely. One of my classmates owns one.

Comparing the original version with the Islamic one, censorship can be easily seen in different parts of the books. Here are just a couple of examples:

In Unit 2, page 20 of the original, there is a passage that reads: “and the first toy doll in the USA with breasts went into production.” Breasts! Reading such a word is never accepted. In the Islamic version of the book breasts is omitted and replaced with no other word.

In Unit 2, page 23: “Lots of people said they thought the dancing was good.” As dancing is not an appropriate action in Islamic belief, the word performance is used instead.

Also, in one of the listening scripts of the second unit I found another change. In the original it reads: “It’s a secret I would hate my boyfriend to find out.” As being in an unmarried relationship with the opposite gender is not accepted here, I assume the people who were trying to censor this sentence came to conclusion that they had to make the relationship of the speaker legal! So the sentence in the Islamic version has been altered to: “It’s a secret I would hate my fiancé to find out.”

Censorship cannot only be seen in the text – there have been changes to the images and pictures in the books too. As women are obligated to cover their bodies from men according to Islamic rules, highlighting, removing, adding and total editing with the help of some photo editing software has been done to censor all images of females’ bodies. There is a photo on page 96 showing women in a pool wearing swimsuits. The women have converted to Islam and wear shirts if you look at the same photo in the Islamic version of the book. The arms of little girls have even been edited so that they appear as they should in Islam.

Islamic rules censor many different things in order to prevent people from gaining facts and understanding what is actually going on outside the world of this religion. But there are ways – such as communicating with free thinkers and referring to different sources – to avoid being dictated to by orders from gods or prophets of centuries ago.

Thanks to my friend Amir for lending me his ORIGINAL book!

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