I strongly suggest you read this WSJ column in its entirety.
In the meantime, here's the short version of the story: Sherry Jones, a Washington journalist, writes a fictional account of the life of Aisha, one of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's wives, engaged at the age of 6. Jones gets a book deal with Random House and eagerly awaits publication. But a UT prof Denise Spellberg, reads a galley, according to the WSJ op-ed, considers it so offensive that she calls up editors at Random House and warns of violent reaction among Muslims (think the Danish cartoon and Rushdie's "Satanic Verses," which prompts the powers that be to pull Jones' book.
Apparently, Jones describes a sex scene between Aisha and Muhammad (the consummation of the marriage, which, it bears noting, some critics of Islam read as child pornography given Aisha's tender age of 9). Spellberg's thoughts on the novel: "a very ugly, stupid piece of work." This sentiment got circulated among Muslim groups on emails and in Web sites. It's easy to spark outrage these days. People don't always seek out the facts for themselves.
The op-ed writer Asra Nomani is a Muslim, a former WSJ reporter, best friend of the late Daniel Pearl and something of a radical in Muslim circles for challenging the gender segregation issue in mosques. A very bright woman and talented writer whom I've met on a couple of occasions.
One nit: The column leaves the involvement of Austin Web developer Shahed Amanullah's involvement in the book flap. While he doesn't completely disagree with some of Spellberg's concerns, Amanullah told me he opposes the idea of not publishing the book.
Finally, check out Ron Hogan's blog with his witty insight about what this says about the publishing biz.