Gyldendal, one of the largest publishing companies operating in Norway, is pulling a brand new school textbook off the market. The book contains errors that could endanger the safety of an editor caught up in the debate over drawings of the prophet Mohammed.
Gyldendal had published the book on religion for high school students. Called Eksistens (Existence), the book contains coverage of a 2006 debate over drawings of the prophet, which infuriated many Muslims around the world.
Norwegian editor Vebjørn Selbekk published a copy of one of the controversial drawings that initially was published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The new Gyldendal book erroneously indicated that Selbekk's Christian newspaper had published drawings that included a caricature of Mohammed with a pig's tail.
Selbekk's newspaper Magazinet never published a caricature of Mohammed with a pig's tail. While Selbekk has dealt with the reaction to the drawing he did publish (of the prophet with a ticking bomb in his turban) he refuses to be blamed for something he did not do, not least when it could spark angry and unjustified retaliation from Muslims.
"This was pure and simple bad work," Selbekk told Aftenposten.no, referring to Gyldendal's book. "It's worrisome that a textbook meant for high school students contains such an elementary mistake."
He also was worried it could place him and his family in danger. He has two high-school-aged daughters himself.
Gyldendal's editor Paul Hedlund is sending an apology to Selbekk and withdrawing the book. "We have to admit that our fact-checking has been poor," Hedlund said. The book was written by Henry Notaker, a well-known author and veteran journalist for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
When asked how such a grave error could be made, Hedlund said he would investigate, stressing that such errors were unacceptable.
Source: Aftenposten (English)