Publishers in Britain fear terrorism in response to “Jewel of Medina” book

I hate the use of the word ‘war’ in reference to any particular conflict. When I think of a war, I think of the innocents who suffer at the hands of sadistic and murderous zealots that would do anything for power. Wars bring out the very worst attributes of mankind; in conflicts we are cruel, barbaric, and savage. Because we often fear for our very lives, this removes our natural impulse to be cooperative and trusting. The very fabric of our society is often unraveled as we find reasons not to trust our fellow man.

Today we talk about the ‘War on Terror’, which is, ironically enough, a kind of politically correct term to refer to the West’s violent clashing with fundamentalist Islam. This conflict is the result of the growing marginalization of religion in secular society, and the clash of ancient traditions that are in opposition to many of our modern values. Islam seems unable to shed its 7th century clothing, and as such, the literal interpretation of the religion by conservative and often poorly educated mullahs fuel the mistrust their flocks have for the west. Slowly but surely, the foot soldiers of the ‘army of God’ are being recruited for what they think is a noble cause: the Islamification of the world.

Our response to such violent vitriol half way around the world is tame; we write books and publish editorial cartoons, only to become targets of threats and violence as a result. In an effort not to exacerbate the conflict, we relent; choosing to censor ourselves to avoid trouble. Recently, Sherry Jones learned the hard way what kind of courage we possess here in the West. Her publisher’s London home was recently firebombed in response to her book, The Jewel of Medina, a historical fiction novel about the life of Muhammad’s 6 year old child bride, Aisha.

Random House bought the rights to publish the book but by the due date of August 2008, they were having cold feet. Frightened their employees might be the target of violent extremists, they decided not to publish it. It was later picked up by Gibson Square, but shortly after one of publisher’s house was firebombed, which quickly prompted them to again delay publication in Britain.

We now live in fear of a native population that has a murderous need to defend their religion from anyone they consider a threat. The problem lies in the fact that although it is only a relatively small percentage of all Muslims that engage in violent tactics, there is little condemnation for these acts on the part of moderates. They too, fear retribution, and there are those who secretly support the violence and destruction brought on by these extremists. How else can you explain the deafening silence coming from the Islamic community in Britain over such violent blackmail?

We are not engaged in a war, for our enemy is not a person but an ideology. The principles of free speech and the rights of man conflict with the supposed ‘values’ of submission and obedience to God. So far we are losing; we are showing we are too timid and afraid to fight for our right to say what we wish. Do we really deserve freedom of speech when we cower in the face of opposition? How would those who died for that freedom feel about the fact we allow religiously motivated arsonists and murderers to tell us how to live our lives?

Can we all stop allowing Muslim extremists to bully us into silence, please? These are the same guys who want to make it a crime to disparage their religion. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of belief that takes kindly to criticism. Wonder why that is….

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