Authors are being warned not to mention pigs or sausages in their books to avoid causing offence.
Oxford University Press (OUP) said all books must take into consideration other cultures if they hope to sell copies in countries across the world.
As a result, the academic publisher has issued guidance advising writers to avoid mentioning pigs or “anything else which could be perceived as pork” so as not to offend Muslim or Jewish people.
IB Times reported the move was revealed during a discussion on free speech during BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in the wake of the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo and its decision to use an image of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its latest issue.
Presenter Jim Naughtie said: “I’ve got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people.
“Among the things prohibited in the text that was commissioned by OUP was the following: Pigs plus sausages, or anything else which could be perceived as pork.
“Now, if a respectable publisher, tied to an academic institution, is saying you’ve got to write a book in which you cannot mention pigs because some people might be offended, it’s just ludicrous. It is just a joke.”
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said:
“I absolutely agree. That’s absolute utter nonsense. And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”
The publishing rules have since been ridiculed amid doubts either Muslims or Jews would be offended by mention of farm animals in a children’s book.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “How on earth can anyone find the word ‘pig’ or ‘pork’ offensive?
“No word is offensive. It is the context in which it is used that is offensive.”
A spokesman for OUP said: “OUP’s commitment to its mission of academic and educational excellence is absolute.
“Our materials are sold in nearly 200 countries, and as such, and without compromising our commitment in any way, we encourage some authors of educational materials respectfully to consider cultural differences and sensitivities.”
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