Add Random House Publishing House to the list of cowardly Westerners who are submitting to the threat of Islamic anger. Now the esteemed publisher has announced that they are suspending publication of a controversial novel by Sherry Jones entitled; The Jewel of Medina-an account of the marriage of the Prophet Mohammed with an 11-year-old bride, Aisha. The author's Serbian publisher has also pulled the book. In the case of Random House, the decision was made upon the protest of a non-Muslim US professor. The Serbian publisher made the decision in response to the protest of a local Muslim group. After Random House sent out advance copies of the book, they received a protest from University of Texas Professor Denise Spellberg, who derided the book and warned the publisher that it would incite violent reactions from Muslims. (Why is it always the professors?)
In the Serbian case, when the publisher announced that the book was being pulled, an organization called the Islamic Community of Serbia accepted the "apology" and announced that planned protests would be called off.In her defense, Ms Jones denies any intent to portray Islam or the Prophet Mohammed in a bad light, and expressed disappointment with the decisions to pull the book.
What is disappointing is to witness another case of non-Muslims caving in to the threat of Islamic reaction, real or imagined. Random House states that they have received no protests from Muslims regarding the book. Apparently, Professor Spellberg speaks for them. I can't speak for Serbia, but US publishers like Random House would do well to contemplate the whole issue of censorship-and self-censorship. When it comes to the history of Islam, given the present-day situation in the world with Islamic terrorism, which, many would argue, is rooted in Islamic writings, we all have an intense interest in the true nature of this religion and its implications for the rest of us in the world. If, in fact, Mohammed took an 11-year-old wife, that is a legitimate issue for our consideration. If it is historical fact, then how can we suppress it? If Mohammed took an 11-year-old wife, are we not entitled to know of it?
Gary Fouse is a regular contributor to Radarsite with his popular and incisive Fouse Report.