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Book on Prophet's wife not to be published

world Updated: Aug 07, 2008 13:49 IST

Publishing giant Random House has scrapped plans to publish a book on Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, fearing that it could be the new

Satanic Verses

and may draw the wrath of the Muslim community.

"I'm devastated," said author Sherry Jones, whose novel The Jewel of Medina was bought by the publisher last year in $ 100,000 two-book deal that was abruptly called off in May.

In a Wall Street Journal article, Asra Q Nomani, a former reporter of the Journal, said, "this saga upsets me as a Muslim -- and as a writer who believes that fiction can bring Islamic history to life in a uniquely captivating and humanising way."

The publishers feared it could become new Satanic Verses, a book written by Indian-origin author Salaman Rushdie that led to death threats being issued to him, riots and the murder of its Japanese translators, the Journal said.

"The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world," Nomani writes.

Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now."

He said that after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

After consulting security experts and Islam scholars, Perry said the company decided "to postpone publication for safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."