What you need to know:
- In the Grade 2 Mentor Encyclopaedia book, the publisher, Mentor Publishing Co Ltd, had included the cartoon under a lesson in which pupils were asked to colour in the illustration.
- However, parents who saw the book raised the alarm and urged the Ministry of Education to take action against the publisher for blasphemy.
Muslim faithful across the country are up in arms after a book publisher drew a cartoon purporting to depict Prophet Muhammad for an Islamic religious education lesson.
In the Grade 2 Mentor Encyclopaedia book, the publisher, Mentor Publishing Co Ltd, had included the cartoon under a lesson in which pupils were asked to colour in the illustration.
Raised an alarm
However, parents who saw the book raised the alarm and urged the Ministry of Education to take action against the publisher for blasphemy.
“My child was doing her homework and as usual I was monitoring her work only to see the blasphemy. This is so wrong in so many ways. What was the intention? I had to call her school teachers who were equally astonished,” said Galgalo Gurre, a parent in Mombasa.
Another parent, Amina Mohammed, wondered whether the government is keen on the content provided by publishers to learners.
“Who checks the publishers? Do they have proof readers? How could this pass?” wondered Ms Mohammed, who noticed the book while inspecting her son’s homework.
The publisher was forced to recall the books from the market.
In a statement, the publisher apologised for the grave mistake in its Grade 2 Mentor Encyclopaedia IRE book.
"It has to come to our attention that one of our books, Mentor Encyclopaedia Grade 2, has content which is sacrilegious to the Islamic faith,” the publisher said after reaching out to the Muslim Education Council, Jamia Mosque Nairobi, Masjid Al Ameen and other stakeholders to express its regret.
In a letter to the faithful, the Director of Mentor Publishing Co LTD, Mrs Josephine Wanjuki, expressed her apologies for the error in the Grade 2 Mentor Encyclopaedia book.
“We had inadvertently inserted a drawing and mistakenly identified it as the image of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Kindly accept this sincere apology and we commit to ensure that such an error will never be repeated. Going forward, we undertake...immediate measures to correct and redress this unfortunate occurrence,” she said.
The publisher said it would immediately remove the offensive drawing from all subsequent editions and has committed to work with the Muslim Education Council to review all its books with IRE content.
Ms Wanjuki said all Mentor Encyclopaedia Grade 2 books already in bookstores, wholesalers and retailers, including street vendors, would be recalled and those in their stores would not be released into the market.
“All teachers, learners, school administrators, or anyone holding these books are advised to return them to our offices, Jamia Mosque Library, Al-Ameen Mosque or Muslim Education Council. We reassure the Muslim community of our commitment to work together on this matter to ensure that such mistakes are never repeated,” she added.
She said the publisher would continue to liaise with the Muslim Education Council to ensure compliance.