Danish publisher hopes to publish ‘inflammatory’ Islam novel
A Danish publisher is in negotiations to buy Sherry Jones’s novel about the child bride of Muhammad, which was dropped by Random House in America and pulled from bookshops in Serbia.
The Jewel of Medina tells the story of Aisha, one of Muhammad’s wives, from the age of six to 18 when Muhammad dies. It was bought by Random House US for a reported advance of $100,000, but then dropped after the publisher was told by academics and security experts that publication was potentially more risky than Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and the Danish publication of cartoons of Muhammad.
Now small Danish publisher Trykkefrihedsselskabets Library (Free Speech Library) is in negotiations with Jones’s agent over publication of The Jewel of Medina in Denmark. Co-owner Helle Merete Brix said that the fact that Random House was prepared to pay $100,000 for the book showed its quality, and that she was determined not to “bow to any censorship”.
She added: “I think that whether you are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or atheist you have to be able to bear insults. You can’t say ‘I’m a Muslim, and that means I should be above criticism’. You can freely insult Jesus Christ, you can mock other religions.”
Brix said that, following Jyllands-Posten’s publication of the cartoons of Muhammad in 2005, which prompted protests across the Muslim world, she felt it was “deep in the mentality of Danish people that we will not tolerate people saying ‘you can’t say or publish that’…There is a growing awareness in Denmark that we have to keep it the bastion of free speech that it has been for many years.”
About: Helle Merete Brix
Helle Merete Brix is a journalist, author, lecturer and editor of Sappho.dk, Denmark’s newest web magazine on free speech, islamism and antisemitism. For a number of years she has been one of Denmark’s most well known writers and commentators on these subjects.
She got her education as a journalist from The Danish School of Journalism and is a frequent contributor to Danish newspapers and magazines. She is also a regular contributor to the web magazine of the Norwegian human rights organization Human Rights Service.
Her latest book Mod M?rket: Det Muslimske Broderskab i Europa [Towards Darkness: The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe] was released in April 2008.
In 2005 Helle Merete Brix published the book Fri tale [Free Speech] on Danish artists and free speech. It was co-edited with the former President of the Organization of Danish Fiction Writers Peter Legaard Nielsen and the noted actor and commentator Farshad Kholghi.
In 2003 she published I krigens hus: Islams kolonisering af Vesten [In the House of War: Islam’s Colonization of the West], co-authored with Torben Hansen and Lars Hedegaard (Aarhus, Hovedland, 2003). The book created a storm and led to the establishment The Free Press Society of whose steering board she was a member from 2005-2007.
In 2002 she edited Islam i Vesten: Pa* Koranens vej? [Islam in the West: On the Path of the Koran?] (Copenhagen, Tiderne Skifter, 2002). In the same year the Copenhagen theater Folketeatret produced her monologue De frafaldne [The Apostates] on totalitarian ideologies in the 20th century. She has also published an autobiography I begyndelsen [In the Beginning] (Copenhagen, Tiderne Skifter, 1990).
In connection with the Danish cartoon affair she has been interviewed for Danish and international media. As a journalist and author she has received numerous grants.
Cell phone: +0045 22 92 70 46