Canceled Muhammad novel finds new publisher

Spokane, USA - A historical novel about the prophet Muhammad and his child bride that was pulled by Random House over concerns it would anger Muslims has been sold to another publisher, the author said Wednesday.

"We do have a U.S. publisher," Sherry Jones, of Spokane, told The Associated Press in an e-mail Wednesday. "We can announce that, but not the name until they announce it."

Jones' agent, Natasha Kern, said a publisher for "The Jewel of Medina" in the United States and the United Kingdom will be announced later Wednesday.

Jones said her debut novel will be published in October, two months after it was to have been published by Random House Publishing Group.

"Now we can all move the conversation forward to address the themes in my debut novel and its sequel, of women's empowerment, reconciliation, and peace," Jones said.

The book will also be published in Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Hungary, Jones said. In August, Serbian publisher BeoBook released "The Jewel of Medina" but then quickly withdrew it from stores after protests from local Islamic leaders who said it insulted Muhammad and his family.

Random House, which paid Jones $100,000 for "The Jewel of Medina" and a second book, spiked the novel about Muhammad and his third wife, Aisha, after concerns were raised by non-Muslims that the contents might spark violence.

Random House said at the time that "credible and unrelated sources" had warned that the book "could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

Following the Random House decision, Salman Rushdie, whose "The Satanic Verses" led to a death decree in 1989 from Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that forced the author to live under police protection for years, said the publisher had allowed itself to be intimidated.

"I am very disappointed to hear that my publishers, Random House, have canceled another author's novel, apparently because of their concerns about possible Islamic reprisals," Rushdie said in an e-mail sent last month to The Associated Press. "This is censorship by fear, and it sets a very bad precedent indeed."