Goes by the name of Denise Spellberg.
Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha’s life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of "The Jewel of Medina" — a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet’s harem.
It’s not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.
I’ll summarize the series of events. Random House sends this book to Prof Denise Spellberg for some kind-hearted words of endorsement. The learned Professor, who specializes in the life of Aisha among other mediaeval historical stuff, shrieks in horror. Instead of expressing her disapproval directly to the publisher, she does exactly what the well-trained do.
On April 30, Shahed Amanullah, a guest lecturer in Ms. Spellberg’s classes and the editor of a popular Muslim Web site, got a frantic call from her. "She was upset," Mr. Amanullah recalls. He says Ms. Spellberg told him the novel "made fun of Muslims and their history," and asked him to warn Muslims.
Since then, things moved rapidly, under Mr. Amanullah’s care.
After he got the call from Ms. Spellberg, Mr. Amanullah dashed off an email to a listserv of Middle East and Islamic studies graduate students, acknowledging he didn’t "know anything about it [the book]," but telling them, "Just got a frantic call from a professor who got an advance copy of the forthcoming novel, ‘Jewel of Medina’ — she said she found it incredibly offensive." He added a write-up about the book from the Publishers Marketplace, an industry publication.
The next day, a blogger known as Shahid Pradhan posted Mr. Amanullah’s email on a Web site for Shiite Muslims — "Hussaini Youth" — under a headline, "upcoming book, ‘Jewel of Medina’: A new attempt to slander the Prophet of Islam." Two hours and 28 minutes after that, another person by the name of Ali Hemani proposed a seven-point strategy to ensure "the writer withdraws this book from the stores and apologise all the muslims across the world."
Interestingly, but obvious to all Islam-watchers, apart from the professor, none of these defenders of the Prophet had read the book. Prof Denise chose well when she chose Amanullah. But let’s see what in the book ticked off the professor’s wrath.
The novel, for example, includes a scene on the night when Muhammad consummated his marriage with Aisha: "the pain of consummation soon melted away. Muhammad was so gentle. I hardly felt the scorpion’s sting. To be in his arms, skin to skin, was the bliss I had longed for all my life."
Not even close to mild erotica. But to the horrified professor’s sensitivities,
"I don’t have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."
A supposed expert on Aisha’s life and times detects pornography in a fictional depiction of Aisha’s sex life. She seems to forget (?) Aisha’s age when Mohammad had sex with her for the first time. In plain language, Mohammad’s act is called pedophilia. But to Denise, this is sacred history. We get further clues to decipher the professor’s fury when we glimpse at her record.
In fact I would go so far as to say she is inciting unrest and hatred. But what can one expect from a graduate of Columbia University? Columbia is a well know bastion of far left thought and hatred for all things American. Apparently they are also now teaching Dhimmitude and appeasement. Maybe we should move the whole campus to France.
I’d even suggest to dig up information about the sources of her funding and/or the patrons who sponsor her research. Notice not just the rapidity but the amazing trail of events. A harmless request for a book endorsement finally ends up in gory visions of terrorist attacks on the Random House building! The worst offender here is Random House. Perhaps it is entirely in conformity with the brave new trend of self-imposed censorship on all things Islamic.
Professor Spellberg’s case again reinforces the same point again: intellectual support to terror. Why don’t we just name them academic terrorists? From the U.S to India, the language just about differs but the muck of hypocrisy is tinged with the same hue. For instance, we have this hoary professor who raises immediate alarms whenever the dreaded no "Hindu Right" sends out as much as a frisson but seems to vanish in cases like this. The last time we looked at his record in the Danish Cartoons controversy…..
PS: It is interesting to read the (deservedly) outraged reactions to this news item on the WSJ forum.