Random US: no regrets over Islam book

<p>Random House US has said that it has no regrets about pulling out of publication of Sherry Jones&#39; Islam-inspired romantic novel, <em>The Jewel of Medina</em>, despite the growing controversy about the decision. The news, which broke in the US last week, has led to widespread criticism, and drawn comparisons with <em>The Satanic Verses</em> and the Danish Mohammed cartoons row.</p><p>But Stuart Applebaum Random House US spokesman told <em>The Bookseller</em> that the publisher had had &quot;no second thoughts&quot;. &quot;It was a difficult decision: one that we have seldom had to take before and one that we hope not to have to take again,&quot; he said. Applebaum said that the decision had been taken by Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group in the US, after several &quot;credible and unrelated sources&quot; warned that it might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.</p><p>However, the explanation has failed to convince some observers. In a strongly worded piece on the Guardian website, Andrew Franklin, publisher at the UK-based Profile Books, was damning about the decision. &quot;It&#39;s absolutely shocking. They are such cowards,&quot; he said. When asked about his comments, Franklin told <em>The Bookseller</em>: &quot;I just think publishers should uphold the principle of free speech &ndash; editorial judgement is very important, but free speech is sacred, without it we should give up and go home.&quot;<br /><br />In a separate statement, Random House US said: &quot;We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some. However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.&quot;<br /><br /><em>The Jewel of Medina</em> a debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones, was due to be published today (12th August) by Random House&#39;s Ballantine imprint. Jones, who has just completed a sequel to the novel examining her heroine&rsquo;s later life, is now free to sell her book to other publishers. It did not have a UK publisher. Writing on her author blog, Jones described the past few months as &quot;heartbreaking&quot;, but added that novel would find a new English-language publisher. She said the book was not a &quot;bodice-ripper&quot;, nor particularly &quot;racy,&quot; and claimed that the book and its sequel were intended as &quot;bridge-builders to another culture&quot;.</p><p>She told the Guardian: &quot;Frankly I&#39;m more afraid of global warming than of terrorist attacks,&quot; she said. &quot;I did expect my book would be controversial.&quot; She said she hoped the book would find a new publisher to take it one with &quot;eyes wide open&quot;.</p>