Page last updated at 23:47 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 00:47 UK

Three charged over novel attack

The house on Lonsdale Square
The property is the home and office of Gibson Square director Martin Rynja

Three men have been remanded in custody charged with conspiring to damage the home and office of a man due to publish a novel about the Prophet Muhammad.

Ali Beheshti, 40, Abrar Mirza, 22 and Abbas Taj, 30, were remanded by Westminster Magistrates on Friday until 17 October.

Martin Rynja of publisher Gibson Square had been planning to release The Jewel of Medina in the UK this month.

A small fire was put out at the property in Islington last month.

The three were charged with "conspiring without lawful excuse to damage the premises... intending to destroy or damage property and with intent to endanger life".

They were also charged with "conspiring without lawful excuse to damage the premises... intending to destroy or damage property and being reckless as to whether the life of another would thereby be endangered."

Mr Beheshti was also charged with possessing a weapon "designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid or gas".

Publication cancelled

Publication of the novel by American author Sherry Jones about Muhammad and his child bride was cancelled in the US in August by publisher Random House, which feared it could offend Muslims.

At the time, Mr Rynja said there must be "open access to literary works, regardless of fear".

The novel follows the life of A'isha, often referred to as Muhammad's favourite wife, from her engagement, allegedly at the age of six, until the prophet's death.

In Serbia, the book was withdrawn by its publisher after protests from local Islamic leaders, but was subsequently returned to bookshelves.

Muhammad novel set for UK release
04 Sep 08 |  Entertainment
Prophet Muhammad novel scrapped
09 Aug 08 |  Entertainment

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