Random House unrepentant about burka-ripper ban

According to The Bookseller, Random House do not feel they have acted unreasonably in shelving Sherry Jones’ burka-ripping Mo-ro The Jewel of Medina in the face of imagined threats from radical Islamists.

The Guardian reports that Geoffrey Robinson QC, who defended Rushdie during the Satanic Verses affair, has called on Random House to pay “substantial compensation” to the author.

We can’t be overcritical of American publishers for cowering under terrorist threats. After all, the Guardian, like every other British newspaper, lacked the gumption to publish the Danish cartoons. But all who care about free speech have a duty to make this sort of censorship counterproductive.

The Guardian report comes tantalisingly close to stating that Mohammed married Aisha when she was six years old – but a strategically placed comma keeps them from the brink:

The first person narrative details the life of Aisha, one of Muhammad’s wives, from the age of six until 18 when Muhammad dies.

Sherry Jones herself remains remarkably chirpy about the whole thing:

Frankly I’m more afraid of global warming than of terrorist attacks […] 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.

And in the comments of this blog she reveals that she is already working on a follow-up:

OK, I have to go and work on my sequel now—which is, by the way, even better than the first book. It alternates points of view between A’isha and her (historically documented) nemesis, Ali, and provides a lot of insight into both of these characters as well as the origins of the Sunni-Shi’ite split.

Maybe she’ll have more luck with Profile Books, whose director Andrew Franklin brands Random House “absolute cowards” in the Guardian article.

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