NEW YORK (AFP) -- A US publisher has cancelled the publication of a novel about the youngest wife of the Muslim prophet Mohammed amid a growing controversy over the book.
"The Jewel of Medina," a debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones about Mohammed's child bride A'isha had been due for release in the United States last week.
But publisher Random House released her from the contract amid the controversy and her agent said Jones is now looking for a publisher in another country to pick up the rights.
"Random House made the decision to cancel its US publication of the novel 'The Jewel of Medina' after much deliberation and with great reluctance," a statement from the publisher sent to AFP said.
"The decision was based on advice from scholars of Islam, among several creditable sources, that publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."
Reports said Monday that a Serbian distributor, BeoBooks, had ordered bookshops to remove from bookshelves some 1,000 printed copies of a local edition of the novel under pressure from Islamic leaders.
Mufti Muamer Zukorlic, one of Serbia's main Islamic leaders, had compared the book with the controversial Danish cartoons that sparked Muslim outrage and violent protests when published in 2005.
"This is a work that absolutely stopped at nothing in order to desecrate something that all Muslims hold sacred," Zukorlic said in a report by the Serbian broadcaster B92.
Random House added that it stood "firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some.
"However, we must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided not to go forward with this publication out of concerns for the author, employees of Random House, booksellers, and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."
Jones, writing in the PostGlobal blog moderated by Newsweek magazine and the Washingtonpost.com, said she had been stunned when Random House told her a university professor had warned the company of possible reprisals if the book were published.
She added that she had expected to stir some controversy as her novel was about "women's empowerment, never a popular theme among fundamentalists of any faith."
But Jones wrote: "Given the respect with which I treat the Muslim prophet, however, I never expected to be killed because of it. I still don't." http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hyP ... Lx42iyvhvgSalman Rushdie attacks 'censorship by fear' over The Jewel of Medina
Salman Rushdie has criticised his publisher for withdrawing a controversial novel about the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride because of fears of a violent backlash from Muslims.
Random House, which published Rushdie's recent books Fury and Shalimar the Clown but not The Satanic Verses, cancelled Sherry Jones's debut novel, The Jewel of Medina, in the latest showdown between Islam and the Western tradition of free speech.
Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa -- death edict -- for The Satanic Verses, accused the US publisher of giving in to intimidation.
"I am very disappointed to hear that my publishers, Random House, have cancelled another author's novel, apparently because of their concerns about possible Islamic reprisals," Rushdie said.
"This is censorship by fear and it sets a very bad precedent indeed." http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 543243.ece