According to an August 6 article in the Wall Street Journal, Random House reneged an agreement to publish a novel about Aisha, Muhammad’s young wife.
The Jewel of Medina, written by Sherry Jones, allegedly contained some racy material, enough to provoke one of the writers who vetted the book, Denise Spellberg, to warn the publisher that it could inspire violence. Random House decided not to publish the book for “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees.”
In an interview with Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Asra Q. Nomani, Spellberg stated that she “walked through a metal detector to see ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’” the film that depicted a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Spellberg followed that by saying, “I don’t have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.”
After we saw this, we immediately issued a release taking Random House to task for their actions and noted that there were several issues at stake here.
First, where was the outcry from the academic community about the scare tactics of Denise Spellberg, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin? She was the one who sounded the alarms and even got her own lawyer to warn Random House that her name was not to be associated with her demagoguery.
Second, it is known that the woman whom Sherry Jones wrote about, Aisha, was, in fact, six years old when Muhammad wrote the marriage contract; she was nine when the marriage was consummated. So now no one can write a historical novel about his perversions?
Third, Doubleday published Dan Brown’s anti-Catholic novel, The Da Vinci Code, and Random House owns Doubleday.
So what does it take for Random House not to offend religious sensibilities? Threats of violence? Great message.
The duplicity demonstrated by Doubleday was appalling. When the Church was trampled on, they turned a blind eye. But when a Muslim heroine was portrayed negatively, they made sure that it wasn’t published.
We ended our news release by stating that we “will continue to speak out against anti-Catholic books, movies, artwork, music, plays and the like, and we will continue to do so by exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of speech. And we will continue to blast all those phony “free speech” advocates who remain silent about matters like this.
Next time they accuse us of censorship for merely voicing our objections about anti-Catholicism, we will be sure to throw this one in their face.”