British police arrested three men this week in connection with a fire at the offices of the publisher of a book about Prophet Mohamed and his wife.
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 wife 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“The Jewel of Medina was re-released in Serbia earlier this month after being withdrawn in August under pressure from Islamic leaders.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.
The firm is known for having published other controversial books such as “Blowing Up Russia by former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko.
Litvinenko died in a London hospital in 2006 from radiation poisoning which it is thought he ingested through a cup of tea. Russia has refused to extradite lawmaker and ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi to face charges in Britain. -AFP