Amazon has been accused of an "Orwellian foot-stomping" on free speech after removing a book by renowned British activist Tommy Robinson.
Robinson co-wrote a book titled "Mohammed's Koran: Why Muslims Kill for Islam". Released in July 2017, the publication went on to become an Amazon best-seller for a brief period of time. One of the theses is that intolerance is inherent to Islam and that xenophobia is rooted in the Koran.
Amazon's website currently says that the book is "not available" to customers, either in print or online. According to the other co-author, Peter McLoughlin, the company deleted it from their database, which means that even second-hand copies are not for sale.
"This is the twenty-first century equivalent of the Nazis taking out the books from university libraries and burning them," he said. "Can you think of another scholarly book on Islam that has been banned by Amazon?"
He accused the company of pursuing a double-line policy, since publications like Adolf Hitler's infamous Mein Kampf and terrorist manuals are still available in the online store.
"I can't get my head round it," McLoughlin lamented. "Every few weeks for the past 18 months they had emailed me asking to put it into special sales programmes, as it was selling so well. For 18 months, they sought to profit even more from the sales."
"Verified Amazon customers left over 1,000 five-star reviews of the book over the last 18 months," he added. "As dark as my vision is, I thought we were ten to twenty years away from dissenting books being banned."
Amazon's move has raised eyebrows among social media users, with some of them calling it "anti-democratic".
Conservative blog Jihad Watch warned that Robinson's case could become the first step in widespread internet censorship: "Anyone who has written a book that is critical of anything should read the writing on the wall and realise that once this censorship begins, it won't end with Tommy Robinson or Qur'an-critical books."
Censorship? It's very anti-democratic. Disgusting!— LudeMoraes 🇧🇷🇮🇪🇮🇱 (@DeMoraesLucia1) 6 марта 2019 г.
Wow! Banning books? Since when did Amazon became the judge of what we should read? What else do they censor? The world is getting very scary and some of these companies are just to powerful. #tommyrobinson— Crystal Musings (@Musings5420) 6 марта 2019 г.
— bob (@rotstopper) 6 марта 2019 г.
— Gina (@G101Creative) 27 февраля 2019 г.
Meanwhile, other commenters contended that in trying to de-legitimise Robinson, Amazon will unintentionally boost his popularity.
In one fell swoop Amazon has just ensured this book will be a best seller! when you start banning and burning books etc etc!— dead parrot (@cyrilthecynic) 6 марта 2019 г.
— (((derivative of sec(x) is sec(x)tan(x)))) (@gangeticus) 6 марта 2019 г.
— Jane anderson (@j_anderson1956) 27 февраля 2019 г.
Tommy Robinson (real name: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) came to prominence as the co-founder of the English Defence League, a right-wing group that organised street protests against Muslim extremism.
He stepped down from the EDL in 2013, saying that it had become "too extreme" for him.
Robinson was sentenced last May to 13 months in prison on contempt of court charges for live-streaming members of an alleged Muslim grooming gang. After his release on bail in early November, he bashed British courts and media for attempting to "silence and stop people having the knowledge" of these gangs.
Also in November, PayPal banned Robinson's account and froze the donations he had received over accusations of him inciting hatred and promoting Islamophobia.
Last month, he received a permanent ban on Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking their policies on hate speech, including policies preventing people from using the site to bully other persons. Facebook said he was "posting material that uses dehumanising language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims".