As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, a coloring book about the ensuing “war on terror” is stirring controversy.
The book “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids' Book of Freedom” starts with Osama Bin Laden plotting the attack and draws an arc until he is killed in the 2011 raid by elite Navy forces. The book depicts the burning Twin Towers and a bullet headed for Osama bin Laden.
Wayne Bell, publisher of Really Big Coloring Books, Inc., called his book a respectful, balanced, and professional portrayal of an important part of the country’s history that children should know about.
“Those are just simply the facts. We don't have a position in the book,” Bell said in a phone interview Tuesday.
But the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan said the book portrays all Muslims as extremists.
Dawud Walid points out that nearly all mentions of Muslims in the book are accompanied by the words "terrorist" or "extremist.” Jihadists are called "freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists."
"Little kids who pick up this book can have their perceptions colored by those images … it instills bias in young minds," Walid told ABC News.
Bell says the book presents an "honest depiction". "It's unfortunate that they were all Muslim and that's the part people want to erase," he told ABC News.
Speaking with ABC7's Ben Eisler, he said the book doesn't focus on one religion.
“Terrorism comes in people of all sizes and people of all colors. That's the opening statement of the book right there,” Bell said.
Some also question whether the book is too graphic for children. It has been rated PG.
"Reading a book about it, or talking about it is appropriate for young children. Coloring pictures of terrible things is not appropriate," Kristen Kindley Wabuge wrote on the WJLA Facebook page.
Sanaa Abouzaid agrees. The Arlington woman is Muslim and a mother and said she would have preferred such a book stress tolerance.
She said she wishes the book offered “more of a learning perspective other than focusing on the negatives and picturing a single group as terrorists.”