Random House banned the book because it feared Muslim ire. See Patrick Cox’s related story in the October 2008 issue of the Levitt Letter, pages 12-13.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.IsraelNationalNews.com
London anti-terrorist police officers arrested in late September three people suspected of trying to torch the home of a London publisher who is printing a novel that was rejected by the large Random House firm because of fears it would upset Muslims.
The attack on the house was linked to the upcoming debut of The Jewel of Medina, an historical novel on the Muslim prophet Mohammed and his first wife. Author Sherry Jones said that “to claim that Muslims will answer my book with violence is pure nonsense.”
Following Random House’s cancellation of the publication of the book, Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja said, “In an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear.”
Expected Muslim anger prompted London police to warn publisher Rynja that he might be targeted.
Police had staked out his house and arrested the three-man gang after its members pushed what apparently was a small firebomb through the house mail slot. A fourth suspect, a woman, later was arrested during a search of houses in the London metropolitan area.
The publication of The Satanic Verses by Iranian author Salman Rushdie in 1988 sparked violent Muslim protests that forced him into hiding and resulted in the murder of the Japanese translator of the book.
The Jewel of Medina is scheduled to be released for publication on October 30 in 15 countries. Random House’s Ballantine Books subsidiary had described the novel as “a fascinating portrait of A’isha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad, who overcame great obstacles to reach her full potential as a woman and a leader.”
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the prospective publisher said printing the book “could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” Incitement spread after a University of Texas associate professor wrote that the book was “an ugly, stupid piece of work” and “soft-core pornography.”
The author defended her book, which she said “has been inappropriately and inaccurately characterized as a soft-porn book, which is the most inflammatory rhetoric anyone can use when talking about the subject matter, given the sensitivity of any religious group toward their sacred figures.”