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German kids’ book bashes religion

A German author is defending his right to ridicule the three main world faiths in a book intended for children.

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Families announced on Jan. 30 that it is considering banning the book’s sale to minors, and the Central Council of Jews in Germany agrees with the move.

“Which Way to God? asks the Little Piglet,” written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon and illustrated by Helge Nyncke, caricatures an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest and an Imam as fanatic and wrathful. The book came out in October 2007.

The Federal Ministry said the book, brought to their attention by a member of the public, not only ridiculed the religions but singled out Judaism for particularly rough criticism.

The rabbi is depicted as a bearded Chasidic Jew with sidelocks. In one illustration, he has wrapped a Torah scroll around the Priest, who is trying to hit the Imam over the head with a Bible. The Imam, for his part, is trying to remove the rabbi’s shoe.

Schmidt-Salomon, a non-Jew, told JTA it was ironic that he was being charged with anti-Semitism, when he himself is frequently the target of anti-Semitic remarks because of his name.

Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he thought the book was equally mean to all three faiths. “It is simply anti-religious… and militantly atheistic,” he said in a statement. “What is perfidious and dangerous is that it uses very attractive graphics to appeal to young children, who are not able to respond to such anti-religious baiting.”

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