The Chronicle of Higher Education reported online today that Cambridge University Press (CUP) has settled a libel lawsuit with Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker. Mahfouz cried foul when CUP published Alms for Jihad by Robert O. Collins and J. Millard Burr, which contained allegations that the businessman financed terrorists around the world in the 1990s. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as Mafhouz has successfully sued for libel against three other publishers for works with similar accusations.
You might be thinking, “What does that have to do with the library?” Well, CUP’s settlement included that the press will destroy all unsold copies of the books and attempt to persaude libraries to take the book of their shelves. The University Library does not own Alms for Jihad, but one of the other titles under fire by Mr. Mahfouz. A librarian from Virginia Tech assessed the situation by saying, “If we were to remove this book, would we by implication be saying that we stand behind the factual accuracy and fairness of the remaining 1,999,999?”
So what do you think? What should libraries like UW-Madison that own Alms for Jihad do with the book?
For more information, you can read the original article from the Chronicle or check Mr. Mahfouz’s website.
Just keep the book on the shelf…they already bought it. It could be reviewed in the future for truthfulness.
Perhaps a printout of the lawsuit’s outcome could be included in the front of the book, if it remains in a library’s collection? Removing books from library shelves can set a bad precedent, but at the same time, libel is a serious accusation. If indeed the book(s) are inaccurate and libelous, one cannot blame Mr. Mahfouz for wanting the books destroyed.