Apparently, The Terrorists Planned to Spam Random House’s Servers

By Neal Comment

jewel-medina-cover.jpgLet’s take another look at yesterday’s story about that novel about Muhammad’s wife that isn’t getting published: You’ll recall that Random House chose to withdraw from its deal with Sherry Jones to publish The Jewel of Medina after receiving “”cautionary advice” from an Islamic studies professor who’d been approached to blurb the book and instead helped convince the company “not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” In the WSJ article about the piece, Asra Q. Nomani makes reference to a website where somebody, hearing about the book third-hand, posted “a seven-point strategy” to compel Jones not only not to publish, but “apologise all the muslims [sic] across the world.”

If you were just sorta reading along in a hurry, it was easy to conflate the publisher’s expressed fear of a terrorist attack and that brief mention of an action plan against the novel and convince yourself some sort of threat was actually expressed. But when you look at the actual online complaint, a much different story emerges; that “seven-point strategy” turns out to be little more than organizing a blast email campaign, getting an advance copy of the novel to pick out the offensive bits, prepping fact sheets about the Prophet’s wives, keeping an eye out for any media coverage of the book so they can complain about that, too, and telling people how terrible it is “this book has been written with some exotic scenes in it.” (He means “erotic,” by the way.)

This is a terrorist threat? Sherry Jones doesn’t think so, either, posting on her revived blog that the only threat Random ever told her about was the vague warning from Prof. Denise Spellberg, whose response to the novel was dubbed “frantic” by one of her own colleagues—Shahed Amanullah of, who spoke to Eileen Flynn, the religion correspondent Austin American-Statesman, to clarify his position: He may have private objections to the material, and he did pass along Spellberg’s concerns to others in the Muslim community, but “opposes the idea of not publishing the book.”