The publisher whose home was targeted in a firebomb attack on Saturday is understood to be going ahead with putting out a controversial novel about the child bride of Muhammad next month, despite this weekend's events.
London-based Gibson Square acquired journalist Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina earlier this month after Random House US dropped the novel following warnings that it could provoke terrorist actions from radical Muslims.
On Saturday, what is believed to have been a petrol bomb was thrown through the doorway of publisher Martin Rynja's home in Islington's Lonsdale Square, which doubles as the offices for Gibson Square. Three men have since been detained on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
But spokesman Michael Wright said that plans to publish The Jewel of Medina on October 30 in the UK and October 15 in the US were still in place, although Jones's US publisher Beaufort Books has closed its offices today as a precautionary measure. "They [Beaufort Books] are meeting with local law enforcement. They have not received any threats but it's as a precautionary measure," said Wright. "There is no change in the publication date of October 30 in the UK – as far as I know they're moving forward with that."
Rynja himself could not be reached for comment. Speaking to the Today programme this morning, author Sherry Jones said Rynja was "a very courageous man, a strong advocate of free speech who went into publication of this book knowing there might be controversy or perhaps even violence. He did this with his eyes wide open, and because he believes in my book and he believes in free speech."
Jones criticised American academic Denise Spellberg, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas, who had described the book as "softcore pornography" in the US media.
"She used the most inflammatory language she could possibly have used. If you want to incite heated emotions from any religious group you just use the word 'pornography' in the same sentence as their revered figures," Jones said.
"She ought to take back her words because it is in no way an accurate description of my book. There are no sex scenes in it."
She added: "I don't blame Denise Spellberg for this attack, I blame the people who resorted to violence. I'm sure Ms Spellberg never wanted to incite violence, in fact she said her reaons for objecting were the opposite. But I fear she has created a self-fulfilling prophecy."
The Jewel of Medina is a first person narrative from the perspective of Aisha, one of Muhammad's wives. It steers clear of graphic details about the sexual relations of Aisha and Muhammad, but does touch on their love life. "This was the beginning of something new, something terrible. Soon I would be lying on my bed beneath him, squashed like a scarab beetle, flailing and sobbing while he slammed himself against me. He would not want to hurt me, but how could he help it? It's always painful the first time."
Jones had previously told the Guardian that she did not believe there was any risk of violent protests over the novel's publication. "Frankly I'm more afraid of global warming than of terrorist attacks," she said. "I did expect my book would be controversial, just because I'm a pink woman writing about a culture that was not my own and a religion that is not my own … [but] my aim was not to provoke, it was to portray the difficulty of being a woman in that era, and to portray this wonderful heroine who overcame obstacles to become a prominent figure in Islam."
Jones said that she had been in contact with Rynja and that he was "fine". "He's unharmed," she added.
Jones said she was still planning to visit the UK for publication next month. "My intention is that if Martin Rynja is courageous enough to proceed with publication, I am certainly courageous enough to come to Britain." She said she was not concerned for her safety. "There is no indication this is the beginning of a larger movement ... It doesn't seem to me from where I sit that this was an actual assassination attempt."
Jones also said she would be writing to London-based lawyer and cleric Anjem Choudhary, who has been quoted calling the book an insult to Muhammad's honour, which he said would warrant a "death penalty" under sharia law. "He is quoted as saying that my book is insulting to Muhammad and it is anything but ... in fact it honours him," she said, "and for a western non-Muslim woman to do that, makes it even more important."