Serbian non-governmental organizations protested Tuesday against a company’s decision last week to withdraw a novel about the Prophet Mohamed’s love life, demanding its re-release.
“We demand the book be brought back to readers so they can judge its values for themselves, said a joint statement issued by eight prominent NGOs.
BeoBooks, the local distributor of “The Jewel of Medina – a debut novel by US journalist Sherry Jones – decided to withdraw the 1,000 copies it printed in Serbian on Aug. 18 under pressure from Islamic leaders.
“We expect the Islamic community to apologize to all citizens of Serbia and the world for its attempt to jeopardize freedom of opinion and expression, said the NGOs, which included the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, the Humanitarian Law Center and Youth Initiative for Human Rights.
“We remind the Islamic community in Serbia that … none of the religions has the right to introduce censorship and frighten writers, publishers and readers with threats of God’s punishment, they added.
Following the withdrawal of all copies of the book from Serbian bookstores, BeoBooks chief executive Aleksandar Jasic apologized to the former Yugoslav republic’s Muslim community.
The release of the novel was already abandoned earlier this month in the United States by its publishers Random House, which said it had information that “this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence.
The Serbian edition of the book, which follows the life of Aisha from her engagement to Prophet Mohammed until his death, was the first to be published in the world, according to local reports. -AFP