August 20, 2008

Publishers censor story of Mohammed’s wife

by David Masters

A US publisher has withdrawn a controversial novel from sale over fears of reprisals from the Muslim community.

‘The Jewel of Medina’ by American journalist Sherry Jones is a fictional biography of the life of one of Mohammed’s wives, Aisha.

Jones’s novel starts with Aisha’s engagement to Mohammed at the age of six and ends at Mohammed’s death.

According to Jones the book tells the story of a heroine who is little known in the Western world.

Yet feedback given to Random House warned that the book could incite acts of violence by a small radical segment.

Salman Rushdie, whose books have been widely criticised by radical Muslim groups, said he was disappointed at the decision to pull the books from sale.

He added that the move represents censorship by fear and that it sets a very bad precedent.

Danish Mohammed cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, whose drawings of the prophet sparked a wave of protest in 2005, also commented on the decision saying that it was not a good sign.

However, the academic who warned Random House of the book’s potential to stir up violence stands by her decision.

Professor Denise Spellberg from the University of Texas said the booked relied upon stirring up controversy to increase sales and was likely to provoke anger.

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