Salman Rushdie: no regrets

Talk about Banned Books Week. Just at the moment, it's hard to imagine a title more uncomfortable or more controversial than "The Jewel of Medina," the story of A'isha, child bride of the prophet Mohammed, by American author Sherry Jones.

In August, Random House, the book's original US publisher, decided not to publish out of fear of reprisals from Muslim extremists. But controversial Dutch publisher, Martin Rynja of Gibson Square Books  (publisher of such books as "House of Bush, House of Saud," O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It," and "Blowing Up Russia by Alexander Litvinenko) said that he would go forward with a release of "The Jewel of Medina" in the UK.

Then, this weekend there was a firebomb attack on Rynja's North London home. According to, the book's publication in the UK is now in "suspended animation" following the weekend attack.

In the US, Beaufort Books, the publisher that picked up "The Jewel of Medina" after Random House dropped it, closed its offices on Monday as a "precautionary action."

Into the fray steps Salman Rushdie. In an interview with Australian broadcaster Clive James, he is reported to have said that he has no regrets about having written "The Satanic Verses," despite the 10 years he spent living in hiding after having done so.

"The question of do we have agency in our lives or whether we are just passive victims of events is, I think, a great question and one that I have always tried to ask," said Rushdie in comments published on James's website. "In that sense I wouldn't not have wanted to be the writer that asked it."

"The Jewel of Medina" is still scheduled for release in the US by Beaufort on October 15.

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