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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Judge overturns Potter 'ban'
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
The American Library Association has received complaints about Harry Potter
A judge has ordered a US school district to put Harry Potter back on library shelves after rejecting arguments that it encouraged witchcraft.

The Cedarville School District in Arkansas had ruled that pupils needed parental permission to take out any of the Harry Potter books.

But the decision angered free-speech campaigners who saw it as a breach of the country's First Amendment.

And the courts agreed as the school board was told to put the four books in the series back in general circulation.

Parents of a fourth grade pupil sought the ruling because they feared their daughter would be stigmatized for wanting to read something that was deemed "evil".

Billy and Mary Nell Counts said the Cedarville district was committing censorship and preventing students from receiving information.

Occult message

Their case was supported by popular children's author Judy Blume.

The school board had originally pushed for the ban, following a complaint from a parent, citing them as encouraging children to disobey orders.

It also felt that Harry Potter's adventures at wizarding school pushed an occult message, a theory backed by some Christian groups.

The American Library Association says the Harry Potter books were the most frequently complained about in 2002, but rarely did these lead to restrictions or bans.

Scholastic, which publishes books for schools, said the Harry Potter series teaches children about right and wrong.

"We're proud to publish the Harry Potter books," spokeswoman Judy Corman said.

"We think they're about good and evil and we don't believe in censorship."

The fifth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is due to be published on 21 June.

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