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 In Serbia the book was withdrawn after protests from local Islamic leaders but was subsequently returned to bookshelves.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.
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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