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.

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Sir Salman Rushdie wages questions over new book – libel, or freedom of expression?

Salman Rushdie is threatening to sue publisher John Blake Publishing Ltd. over a book by a former bodyguard that he says portrays him as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant, and extremely unpleasant. Rushdie’s lawyer Mark Stephens wrote a letter to the publisher, demanding that the book – called On Her Majesty’s Service – be withdrawn from publication. Rushdie has been accused of trying to stop freedom expression, which would be a curious move contrary to what he has long advocated. However, Rushdie has asserted that he is not trying to prevent his former bodyguard – Ron Evens – from publishing the book, but that if the publication goes as planned, there will be consequences and there will be a libel action, citing a difference between free-speech and libel.

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.

Wal-Mart tweaks store for Arab-Americans

The world’s largest retailer has opened an innovative new supercenter in Dearborn, Michigan. Wal-Mart’s new 200,000 square foot store will offer a special line of products geared towards the American Muslim and Arab American communities in the Detroit metro area, which is home to one of the largest communities of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. The store offers a variety of Middle Eastern food such as tahini, olive, traditional spices, and halal meat section. The store, which is still in the hiring process, presently employs about thirty-five Arab Americans. Many local business members are, however, worried. “There is a fear factor in the business community,” says Osama Siblani, publisher of Dearborn’s Arab American News. The fear rests on Wal-Mart’s all-in-one store and slogan of low prices will make prosperity difficult for many local business in the area. Wal-mart has agreed to make a promise not to undercut the prices of small local stores, and agreed to be examined by a community advisory board made up of local Arab-American leaders, to make sure that it isn’t endangering mom and pop shops. For example, Wal-Mart agreed to charge one dime more than local grocers for a package of pita bread.

Islam in Europa: Eine internationale Debatte

Who should the West support? Moderate Islamists like Tariq Ramadan or Islamic dissidents like Ayaan Hirsi Ali? In early 2007 the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner caused a controversial debate, when publishing a polemics against an alleged liberal consensus of the West about Islam policy. Following Bruckner’s polemics, a controversial debate was carried out on the internet forums perlentaucher.de and signandsight.com. It marked an important caesura in the debate about multiculturalism and Islam in Europe. The debate has now been published in a book.

More information available on publisher’s site here.

German Paper Accused Of Insulting Islam

BERLIN – A Turkish lobby group said yesterday it has filed a criminal complaint against a German newspaper for printing a series of blasphemous Danish cartoons last month. It said the complaint was filed with prosecutors in the northern city of Cologne, charging the daily Die Welt with violating Germany’s criminal code by printing 12 cartoons despite global unrest sparked by their initial appearance in a Danish paper. While freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the German constitution, the country’s law forbids public insults against religious societies, beliefs and groups that support specific world views. It is not the point of a free Press to insult the religious sensibilities of nearly 3 million Muslims in Germany with provocations of this kind, Abdullah Emil, general secretary of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), said. Guenther Feld, a public prosecutor in Cologne, where the UETD is based, confirmed receiving the complaint and said he would study it. Even if the prosecutors decided to formally press charges, Feld told Reuters it was unclear whether it would be handled in Cologne or Hamburg, where the daily’s owner, German newspaper publisher Axel Springer, is based. Axel Springer’s spokeswoman, Silvie Rundel, said there were currently no official legal complaints, or complaints by the German media watchdog pending against Die Welt. On Wednesday, Denmark’s own public prosecutor decided not to press charges against a newspaper for allegedly violating Denmark’s blasphemy law by printing the 12 blasphemous drawings which triggered widespread Muslim anger. The cartoons, later reprinted in other countries, provoked protests among Muslims. At least 50 people were killed in protests in the Middle East and Asia, three Danish embassies were attacked and many Muslims boycotted Danish goods. Last month a German court convicted a businessman of insulting Islam. He was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service.

Sarawak Tribune Suspended After Running Prohpet Muhammad Cartoons

Kuala Lumpur — Malaysia will suspend the publishing licence of a daily newspaper after it printed the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have enraged Muslims worldwide, news agency Bernama reported yesterday. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered the licence of the publisher of the Sarawak Tribune to be suspended indefinitely with immediate effect. The publisher was not immediately available for comment. The paper ran the caricatures last weekend to illustrate a story on its inside pages about the global fury in what it called an “oversight” by a non-Muslim night editor. The incident embarrassed the mainly Muslim country’s government, which is headed by an Islamic scholar who chairs the world’s largest grouping of Islamic nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. “Cabinet members…unanimously agreed with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the reproduction of the offensive cartoons was a serious offence which demanded stern action from the government,” the New Straits Times newspaper said. The suspension is pending the outcome of an investigation by the Internal Security Ministry, the newspaper said. Tens of thousands of Muslims have demonstrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa over the cartoons, first published in Denmark, then other countries in Europe and elsewhere. One caricature showed the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Many Muslims consider any portrayal of their Prophet as blasphemous, let alone one showing him as a terrorist. The Sarawak Tribune is published in the eastern state of Sarawak on the jungle-clad island of Borneo. It is one of the few Malaysian states where Muslims are in a minority.