'Prophet book' publisher shuts offices

The publisher of a controversial novel about the Prophet Mohammed closed its New York offices as a “precautionary action” today.

But Beaufort Books 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, and we felt it was unfair for the employees to be back there without management,” company president Eric Kampmann said.

The publisher took on Sherry Jones’ novel after it was dropped by Random House over security concerns.

Police in London 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 publish the book, a fictionalised version of Mohammed 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 50,000.

Mr Kampmann said he has discussed possible security arrangements with the FBI and New York 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 dropped it after deciding that muslims would be offended by its subject matter.

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”.

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