Accessibility links

Breaking News

Top 10 Wikipedia Controversies in Languages Other Than English

Islam's Prophet Muhammad is among the top 10 most controversial entries on online encyclopedia Wikipedia -- not only in English, but in Arabic and Persian as well.
Islam's Prophet Muhammad is among the top 10 most controversial entries on online encyclopedia Wikipedia -- not only in English, but in Arabic and Persian as well.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush joins Jesus, Muhammad, and global warming on a list of the top 10 most controversial topics on online encyclopedia Wikipedia's English-language pages.

But what's stirring controversy in languages other than English? A recent study published at Cornell University Library has some answers.

The research, presented in a draft chapter of a forthcoming book, "The Most Controversial Topics in Wikipedia: A Multilingual and Geographical Analysis," looked at Wikipedia in 10 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew.

To measure controversy, the authors examined the editorial history of the Wikipedia pages, counting how many times "an editor undoes another editor's edit completely and brings it to the version exactly the same as the version before the last version."

Religion, politics, sports, and sex all figure prominently in the "top 10" lists.

Jesus is among the top 10 most contested topics in English, German, French, and Czech, while the Prophet Muhammad figures in the English, Arabic, and Persian top 10 lists.

Here are the top 10 lists for English, as well as Arabic, Persian, and Romanian.

The top 10 most controversial Wikipedia pages in English:

George W. Bush
List of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) personnel
Global Warming
United States
Race and intelligence

The top 10 most controversial Wikipedia pages in Arabic:

Ash'ari is a school of thought influential in changing the direction of Islamic theology. The controversy lies in whether the Asharites prevented the expansion of the Islamic world's innovation in science and technology.

Ali bin Talal al-Jahani held various government posts in Saudi Arabia.


Ali is the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. Disagreement about whether he should succeed Muhammad after his death in 632 led to the split in the Muslim community into the Sunni and Shi'ite branches.



Sunni Islam

Wahhabi is an ultraconservative branch of Sunni Islam.

Yasser al-Habib is a Shi'ite cleric from Kuwait. He angered Sunni Muslims by calling Aisha, one of Muhammad's wives, "an enemy of God."

Arab people

The top 10 most controversial Wikipedia pages in Persian:

Bab is the founder of the Babi religious movement, which led to the founding of the Baha'i faith, currently Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority facing persecution and discrimination.

Fatimah was the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, who married his cousin Ali.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad is Iran's outgoing president.

Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), or People's Mujahedin of Iran, is an Iranian opposition movement in exile. It was only recently delisted as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Criticism of the Koran

Tabriz is the capital of East Azerbaijan Province and one of Iran's historical capitals. In recent years there has been a rise of community tensions in Tabriz.

Ali Khamenei is Iran's supreme leader.

Ruhollah Khomeini was the leader of the 1979 revolution that overthrew Iran's last shah.

Massoud Rajavi is one of the leaders of the MKO.


The top 10 most controversial Wikipedia pages in Romanian:

FC Universitatea Craiova was the first Romanian soccer club to reach the semifinals of a European tournament, the UEFA Cup, in 1982. The team has since been fraught with internal disputes.

Mircea Badea is the controversial host of a TV show based on fictional news.

Disney Channel (Romania)

Legionnaires rebellion & Bucharest pogrom The 1941 Legionnaires rebellion was initiated by the Iron Guard, a far-right movement whose members tried to overthrow ruling dictator Ion Antonescu. The pogrom of 125 Jews in Bucharest was a parallel incident initiated by the Legionnaires.

Lugoj is a city in western Romania located on both banks of the Timis River.

Vladimir Tismaneanu is a Romanian and American political scientist and professor. He has written on Stalinism and the Romanian communist regime, among other topics. His background -- his father was a top communist official -- was criticized in 2006 when he was appointed by Romanian President Traian Basescu as the head of the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania.

Craiova is a city in southwest Romania.


Traian Basescu There have been two attempts -- in 2007 and 2012 -- to impeach the current Romanian president. He won an impeachment referendum in each case.

The Romanian Orthodox Church is the only Eastern Orthodox Church that uses a Romance language.

-- Deana Kjuka

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Latest Posts