A novelist yesterday urged the British people to stand by the principle of free speech to ensure that her book about the Prophet Mohammed was published here.
U.S. writer Sherry Jones spoke out after the London home of her publisher Martin Rynja was firebombed.
Mr Rynja had agreed to go ahead with Miss Jones's book in Britain after a major publishing house pulled out of the deal.
'You have to ask whether a thug with a gun or petrol bomb should be allowed to censor the people of Great Britain,' Miss Jones, 47, said at her home in Spokane, Washington state.
'This is about the future of free speech. Is it the case that there are now some books which cannot be published in Britain?
'My publisher cannot fight this all by himself. I hope the people of Britain will support him. He is a courageous man.'
Mr Rynja, 44, is in hiding with an armed police guard following the strike by suspected Muslim extremists at the weekend.
However, he still intends to publish The Jewel Of Medina - a fictional account of the Prophet's child bride - said Miss Jones's agent, Natasha Kern.
'I have been in contact with him and I understand that he plans to go ahead and publish the book,' she said.
'Martin is a person of great principle and integrity who believes in free speech.'
Radicals say the book insults the Prophet - an offence which they say carries a death
However, Mohammed Shafiq, from Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation, while admitting he was disgusted by the novel, called for calm among Muslims.
He said: 'The novel serves no purpose and does little to promote understanding between communities.
'I also strongly condemn the thugs that used terrorism against the publishing house. They do not represent Islam or Muslims.'
The book traces the life of A'isha, Mohammed's first and favourite wife. It tells of her marriage aged nine to the much older Mohammed, and how she uses her wits, courage and sword to defend her position as he takes another 12 wives and concubines.
While the basic facts of the narrative are generally accepted, critics say it 'misinterprets and falsifies sacred history' by adding fictional scenes.
Most controversially, it includes a description of the night Mohammed and A'isha consummate their marriage.
Mr Rynja agreed to publish the novel after Random House cancelled a £54,000 deal last month, fearing a violent reaction by 'a small radical segment' of Muslims.
It followed comments by Denise Spellberg, a professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, that the book had turned a 'sacred history' into 'soft core pornography'.
Miss Jones - who has been contacted by the FBI over the danger she now faces - has asked the professor for a retraction because, she says, the description is not true and is responsible for the firebombing in London.
Miss Jones has been a smalltown newspaper reporter for more than 20 years. She has never been to the Middle East. But, she said, 'my interest in the subject began when on September 11, 2001 the Middle East came to us'.
She read of the oppression of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan and began to seek out books on the subject, which brought her to the story of A'isha.
The initial reaction from the Random House was ecstatic, she said. They sent the book for review to a number of Islamic experts in U.S. universities. That was when the trouble began.
'I got a call from my agent saying one of the professors (Denise Spellberg) had called Random House with dire warnings of terrorism.
'They then received a letter from the academic's lawyer threatening litigation if her name was linked to the book, which she described as softcore pornography.
'My book has almost no sex in it. There is sexuality but very little even of that.'
Random House then sent the manuscript to three Muslim scholars. Two said the subject matter could offend some Muslims. On May 21, Random pulled the plug.
Miss Jones's agent found her another publisher in the U.S. and then Mr Rynja's Gibson Square imprint in the UK.
The author believes that the impression her novel gives of the Prophet is positive.
'Mohammed was compassionate, wise, gentle and charismatic and respected women.'
She said that some of the worst hate mail she had received was from people who accused her of being an apologist for Islam.
• Scotland Yard said three men aged 40, 22 and 30 were arrested under the terrorism act following the attack on Mr Rynja's home in Islington.