First it was the publication of The Satanic Verses, a novel by Salman Rushdie, which resulted in a fatwa placed on the life of the author by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The fatwa resulted in at least one attempt on the life of Mr Rushdie, and the book consequently sold in its millions.
Things went relatively quiet for a while, mainly until the Danish cartoons about Mohammad which elicited threats of violence, then caused actual violence, and led to demands for censorship. The Danish cartoonist, not to mention the newspaper and its editor, have since become internationally known, and circulation is very healthy indeed
But now there is a novel by one Sherry Jones – The Jewel of Medina – about Mohammad’s relationship with his youngest wife Aisha, to whom he was betrothed while she was around the age of six, and whom he married when she was around the age of 11. It is somewhat racy, and Cranmer has read an excerpt which is certainly on the peripheries of literary pornography, but the Wall St Journal tells us that the publisher, Random House, abruptly called off publication of the book (someone should tell Amazon). ‘The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world. Random House feared the book would become a new “Satanic Verses,” the Salman Rushdie novel of 1988 that led to death threats, riots and the murder of the book’s Japanese translator…’