Norwegian journalist Halvor Tjønn, who recently finished a biography of Muhammad for Oslo publisher Kagge, is the latest to experience a phenomenon that spans more than two decades: the sudden and mysterious cancellation of Islam-related books. Rita Karlsen has his story:

According to Aftenposten the author and publisher signed a contract for the book in January 2009. Shortly afterward, he handed in his completed manuscript, which he had been working on since the spring of 2007. Last summer the publisher asked him to add footnotes and references to his source materials, a labor that took several months. The book was also included in Kagge's 2009 fall catalog. But in July of this year came the news: it was "best that another publisher take the book."

"It's an internal matter," said Kagge's director, denying that any threats had been received. Tjønn remarked, "If the publisher had objections to the book's quality, that would have come up much earlier in the process, and not after a year and a half"; he declined to get more specific. Naturally the tight lips bolster suspicion of fear-based self-censorship at work yet again. This case certainly fits the history of books about Islam disappearing as anxiety over violence grows:

Equally maddening, of course, is censorship of what actually does make it to print, such as Yale University Press removing all images of Muhammad from a text on the Danish cartoons.

It is time to "throw the book" at publishers that embolden radicals by pussyfooting around Islam — or even giving the impression of doing so. Readers may begin with Kagge (post@kagge.no).

April 4, 2011, Update: Halvor Tjønn's book has been released by a different publishing house, to negative reviews from the establishment.