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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scotland Yard Foils Plot By Islamic Extremists To Kill Publisher Of Muhammad Novel

Scotland Yard has foiled an alleged attempt by Islamic extremists to assassinate Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, because of his intention to publish a controversial novel featuring Muhammad and his child bride Aisha.

TimesOnline reports that undercover officers from Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command arrested three men after they put a firebomb through the door at the home of Martin Rynja.

According to officials the motive behind the alleged plot was because Rynja's publishing firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad.

The book is called Jewel of Medina and it was withdrawn from publication last month by Random House because they feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims after receiving information saying the book could incite violence.

Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object. One of them, Denise Spellberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, described the novel as “soft-core pornography”, referring to a scene in which Muhammad consummates his marriage to Aisha. She called it “a declaration of war” and a “national security issue”.

The author of the book, Sherry Jones, received death threats after Random House withdrew the book from publication, yet she maintains the book is not disrespectful to Islam, saying, "Anyone who reads the book will not be offended. I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam."

After Random House withdrew, Gibson Square evidently agreed to publish the book and the Metropolitan police were tipped off with information saying Martin Rynja would be the target of an attack.

After receiving the tip, the police then went undercover and started following the suspected terror gang arresting them after they put a "petrol bomb" through the door of Rynja's north London home.

The fire brigade smashed down the front door and put the fire out and the undercover police arrested three men who are alleged to have been responsible for the attempted murder plot.

A Met spokesman said three men had been arrested in “a preplanned intelligence-led operation” at about 2.25am on Saturday.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja’s four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station.

They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.

It is believed that Rynja is now under police guard.

Sherry Jones' agent Natasha Kern, expressed shock when she learned of the attack and said the book had been "misinterpreted by its critics and did not contain sex scenes," further stating, "I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don’t want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I’m so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals.”

When asked whether she thought the book should be withdrawn as Random House had done, she replied, "That’s up to Martin, and I still need to absorb the fact that he was at risk. I’m just so glad he has not been hurt.”

The Jewel of Medina is scheduled to be published next month.