Muhammad novel publisher cautious

NEW YORK - The US publisher of a controversial novel about the Prophet Muhammad closed its offices as a "precautionary action" but emphasised that no threats had been received and that The Jewel of Medina would be released as planned.

NEW YORK - The US publisher of a controversial novel about the Prophet Muhammad closed its offices as a "precautionary action" but emphasised that no threats had been received and that The Jewel of Medina would be released as planned.

"We were out of the office for a meeting today. We felt it was unfair for the employees to be back there without management," Eric Kampmann, president of Beaufort Books, said on Monday. The publisher took on Sherry Jones' novel after it was dropped by Random House over security concerns.

In London, police said they arrested three men on Saturday on suspicion of terror links relating to a fire at the home and office of publisher Martin Rynja, whose Gibson Square announced earlier this month that it would issue The Jewel of Medina, a fictionalised version of Muhammad and his child bride, Asia.

Beaufort, the publisher that issued OJ Simpson's reviled, once-rejected If I Did It, a theoretical account of how he might have murdered his ex-wife and her friend, plans to release Jewel of Medina on October 15, with a first printing of 50000 copies.

As of Monday afternoon, the book was No 204 on Amazon.com. Barnes & Noble Inc. and Borders Group Inc. will both stock the book in stores, according to spokesmen for the superstore chains.

Kampmann said he had discussed possible security arrangements with the FBI and New York City police, but added that nothing was planned and that there were no immediate worries about safety.

Random House was supposed to publish Jones' novel in August, but pulled it back after determining that Muslims would be offended. The publisher acknowledged that it received no specific threats, saying in a statement that "credible and unrelated sources" had warned that the book "could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment". - Sapa-AP

X