Saturday, September 27, 2008

UK: Jewel of Medina publisher set on fire.

Care to hazard a guess as to their religious persuasion?

Police arrested three men on Saturday in connection with a fire at the offices of the publisher of a book about the Prophet Mohammed and his child bride.

The men, aged 22, 30 and 40, were arrested in north London under anti-terrorism legislation after the fire on Saturday morning at Gibson Square's offices. Police were also searching four addresses in east London.

Britain's domestic Press Association news agency said some residents, whom it did not identify, reported that the incident may have involved a petrol bomb being pushed through the firm's letterbox.

Gibson Square is responsible for the publication of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a fictional account of the Prophet's relationship with his youngest bride Aisha -- by American author Sherry Jones.

Random House announced last month it had cancelled publication of the book in the United States because of fears of violence.

"The Jewel of Medina" was re-released in Serbia earlier this month after being withdrawn in August under pressure from Islamic leaders.

Martin Rynja, publishing director at Gibson Square, earlier this month defended the decision to publish the book, saying that in "an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate," he added.

Gibson Square could not be immediately contacted for comment on Saturday's fire and subsequent arrests.

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