Controversy Over Novel About Muhammad’s Bride Continues

U.S. publishing company Random House will not publish a planned novel by Sherry Jones, called The Jewel of Medina, that was expected to hit stores on August 12th. The Islamically-themed novel explores Aisha, the child bride of the prophet Muhammad, who overcame a number of obstacles to reach her potential as a revered woman and leader in Islam. Random House said that it has been advised that the fictional novel, might be offensive to some Muslims, and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment. The Jewel of Medina traces the life of Aisha, who is often cited to have been Muhammad’s favorite wife, and is believed to have been engaged to the prophet from the age of six. Muslim writer and feminist Asra Nomani published a column in the Wall Street Journal, saying that she was saddened by the book’s scrapping, saying that the move is a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world. Others, including Denise Spellberg, a professor from the University of Texas in Austin, said that the book was ugly, stupid, and was soft core pornography. The decision to indefinitely delay the novel’s release was made in consideration for the safety of the author, employees of the publisher, booksellers, and others involved in the distribution or sale of the novel.

The Right of Return Author Leon De Winter: “The Europeans Are Chasing Illusions”

Dutch author Leon de Winter talks with SPIEGEL about his new novel, which is set in 2024, the threats mounting against Israel and the assimilation of Muslims in Europe.

SPIEGEL: Mr. de Winter, your new book — “The Right of Return” — is a novel, but it actually describes a political vision. In the book, it is the year 2024, and Israel has shrunk to just a few square kilometers around Tel Aviv, which is surrounded by enemies. Are you simply playing with some ideas here or is this a serious prediction?

Leon de Winter: Both. Israel is menaced by two threats. On the one hand, by the hatred of its enemies, which today is primarily stirred up by Iran, and on the other hand, by the erosion spreading throughout Israeli society. There are three groups that have little in common: the Orthodox Jews, the Israeli Arabs and the secular Jews, who currently make up the majority of the population. But this majority is dwindling. The conflict between these three lifestyles is every bit as much of a threat — if not even more dangerous — to the existence of Israel as its outside menaces […]

Interview with Author Leon de Winter: ‘The Europeans Are Chasing Illusions’

Dutch author Leon de Winter talks with SPIEGEL about his new novel, which is set in 2024, the threats mounting against Israel and the assimilation of Muslims in Europe. SPIEGEL: Mr. de Winter, your new book — “The Right of Return” — is a novel, but it actually describes a political vision. In the book, it is the year 2024, and Israel has shrunk to just a few square kilometers around Tel Aviv, which is surrounded by enemies. Are you simply playing with some ideas here or is this a serious prediction? Leon de Winter: Both. Israel is menaced by two threats. On the one hand, by the hatred of its enemies, which today is primarily stirred up by Iran, and on the other hand, by the erosion spreading throughout Israeli society. There are three groups that have little in common: the Orthodox Jews, the Israeli Arabs and the secular Jews, who currently make up the majority of the population. But this majority is dwindling. The conflict between these three lifestyles is every bit as much of a threat — if not even more dangerous — to the existence of Israel as its outside menaces.

Author’s ‘Satanic’ play debuts: No problems over contentious story

A German theater has brought Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to the stage, with no sign of trouble after authorities promised thorough security precautions. The Hans-Otto Theater in Potsdam says its version, which has 12 actors and ran for nearly four hours, is the first theatrical presentation of the novel. Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie to live in hiding for a decade. Theater director Uwe Eric Laufenberg had invited the author to Sunday’s premiere, but it had been unclear whether he would attend and Rushdie could not be seen in the audience. I think it is time for the Muslim world to say exactly what it finds so provocative about this book. Simply to say, _This book insults us’ is no longer enough at some point, Laufenberg said. He argued that the theatrical version could help to focus on the book’s contents and ease objections.

German theatre stages Rushdie’s Satanic Verses without incident

A stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses debuted without incident in Germany Sunday, despite worries about the controversial production before opening night. German police were dispatched both inside and outside the Hans Otto Theatre in Potsdam, located southwest of Berlin, for Sunday’s nearly four-hour-long performance. Some German Muslim groups had publicly complained about the production before the curtain went up on what is billed as the first stage play of Rushdie’s novel. The adaptation, for which Rushdie gave his consent, was created by the theatre’s director Uwe Eric Laufenberg and playwright Marcus Mislin. Police said that there were no direct threats or disturbances surrounding the event, but that uniformed and undercover officers had been assigned as a precaution. Indian-born British author Rushdie has long been the target of extremists for his novel, which was deemed blasphemous by many in the Muslim world.

Immigration: Spain’s novel approach

While most European countries’ immigration focus on defense within, the Spanish government is trying to encourage African development and legal immigration, in a new reform that is winning praise from some. Exporting Spanish models of schools, workshops, and professional training will encourage sustainable development in several African countries, and encourage legal immigration, says Spanish labor minister Jesus Caldera.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2007 in over 16 languages. The story takes place over the course of an evening in an outdoor Lahore cafe as Changez, a bearded Pakistani man, tells a nervous American stranger about his love affair with, and eventual abandonment of, America.

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/ Hemingway Award finalist, and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has also appeared in Time, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

Full-text New York Times Magazine interview with the author available here.(Some news sites may require registration)