Serbs Halt Sale of Controversial Novel on Islam

August 19, 2008

Author: Ivana Sekularac

Source: Reuters

A controversial novel about the Prophet Mohammed's life was pulled from bookstores in Serbia to avoid conflict with the country's Muslim minority, the publisher said on Wednesday.

"The Jewel of Medina", a debut novel by American journalist Sherry Jones, hit bookstores in Serbia on August 1, a week before Random House cancelled its U.S launch scheduled for August 12.

"There is always a market for historical novels in Serbia," said Aleksandar Jasic, director of Serbian publisher Beobook. "I didn't think it was an insult to anyone."

On Sunday, two weeks after the book arrived in Serbian bookstores, the Islamic community demanded a ban on its sale. By then, they had already sold 600 copies, but publisher Beobook agreed to end its distribution of the remaining 400 copies of its initial print run.

"Serbia is the only country where the book has actually been sold," said Jasic, adding that his publishing goal was simply to make money but not to make a political statement.

Serbia's Islamic community said the novel, and especially the details describing relations between Mohammed and his wife A'isha, offended their feelings. The novel traces the life of A'isha from her engagement to Mohammed until the prophet's death.