Extremist found guilty of firebomb plot against publisher of ‘The Jewel of Medina’

Abbas Taj, 30, a mini-cab driver, was found guilty of conspiracy to firebomb the home of Martin Rynja, the publisher of The Jewel Of Medina. He was to be the getaway driver, but was stopped in his car and arrested by armed police near Angel Tube station in the early hours in September last year, just after he and two other men had set fire to the premises. The other two have been convicted last month.

The novel is about the Prophet Mohammed and the life of his child bride, Aisha, and has stirred quite some controversy. Its publication was cancelled by one major publisher in the United States over fears that it could offend Muslims. In Serbia the book was withdrawn after protests from local Islamic leaders but was subsequently returned to bookshelves. Speaking last October, Mr Rynja said that the novel was not offensive and added that he felt its publication was part of a liberal democracy.

The case is one of many examples where liberalism and pluralism clash with the extremist opinion of a few who employ vigilante justice to enforce objectives.