Posts Tagged ‘Jewel of Medina’
Three men seized by armed anti-terrorist officers during an apparent arson attack on the London publisher of a novel featuring the prophet Muhammad were being questioned last night.
In a “pre-planned” operation, detectives arrested the suspects outside the home of Martin Rynja in Islington, north London, after a petrol bomb reportedly exploded. Neighbours described seeing smoke before firemen broke down the front door.
The attack was believed to be linked to the forthcoming publication of The Jewel of Medina, a fictionalised account of the relationship between Muhammad and his child bride A’isha.
The book by Sherry Jones, described by the independent publisher, Gibson Square, as a “historical novel of the love story”, has been at the centre of a growing international dispute.
Announcing his decision to publish the book earlier this year, the publisher, Martin Rynja said: “In an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate.”
I’ve posted about the book and the controversy, recently. None of that bit needs updating.
Frankly, I’d add a bit of criticism for the American expert in Texas who panned a review copy of the book as soft-core porn – and passed her opinion along to Muslim websites. Another dim 21st Century version of Political Correctness.
Face it, though. People who promote violence because of their religion hangups are going to do so regardless of content or context.
Sherry Jones knew it would be hard to get her first novel published. Getting “The Jewel of Medina” into bookstores was even harder. “I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam”.
After overcoming the formidable hurdles any new author faces, Jones was overjoyed to sell the book to Random House. Then Random House canceled its publication at the last minute for fear the historical novel about Aisha, child bride of the prophet Muhammad, would incite riots in the Muslim world…
Aisha was 9 when she became Muhammad’s wife. She’s often described as Muhammad’s favorite wife, and it was in her company that Muhammad received the most revelations….She became one of the top scholars of Islam’s early age, with some historians crediting her with one-quarter of Islamic religious law. She died at 65.
That story drew a response from author Salman Rushdie, who criticized his publisher for pulling the novel.
The Langum Charitable Trust, which awards lucrative literary prizes, said the company was too easily intimidated. “Random House has exhibited a degree of cowardly self-censorship that seriously threatens the American public’s access to the free marketplace of ideas,” the trust said.
There was a time when Random House stood for courage and unrestricted thought. Long past.
Fortunately, there remain a few publishers with backbones, here in the States and abroad. We may come to a time when self-publication and distribution via the Web becomes the last best choice.