Fire at Publisher of Jewel of Medina

Three men have been arrested in London after a suspicious fire was set at “the home and office of publisher Martin Rynja”, aka Gibson Square Publishing, the UK publisher of The Jewel of Medina. According to the BBC, the three men were arrested under the Terrorism Act of 2000, “on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

The police confirmed that there has been small fire inside the property in Lonsdale Square, which had to be put out. “At this early stage it is being linked with the arrests,” the spokesman added.

[Scotland] Yard officials have refused to identify those arrested or give any information on the nature of the terrorist plot they are alleged to have been planning.

Residents in Lonsdale Square said armed police, assisted by fire-fighters, broke down the door of number 47 at around 2.30 this morning.

My reaction: holy fucking shit. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Thanks to Marianne and Faellie for the heads up.

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The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    Rebecca says:

    Wow.  Amazing that nobody predicted this.  Hey, it’s probably a bunch of Swedish nuns who did the damage.

  2. 2
    Lyvvie says:

    Who’d’ve thought this would be a great way to get annoying terrorists to out themselves. Well done Scotland Yard. Shame it gives that twat of a professor – whatshernameagain? – have an I told you so moment.

  3. 3
    Julie Leto says:

    Sarah…you’re REALLY surprised or is that sarcasm?

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    I’m honestly shocked. Not surprised, but utterly shocked. I keep expecting people to act like fucking grownups.

    My husband just informed me that that was a mistake.

  5. 5

    One wonders if anyone would have gave a shite about this book if someone hadn’t run around screaming about it first. Such an apparently minor (not mention not very interesting) book probably wouldn’t have garnered much attention on its own.

    Some people need to be told when to be offended and at what. It’s certainly true with conversative groups here in the US; why shouldn’t it be true elsewhere?

  6. 6
    Liz says:

    Has to be said that Random House’s press statement wasn’t that helpful from that point of view when they offloaded the book in the first place:
    http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/medinaletter.html

  7. 7
    AgTigress says:

    Entirely predictable, alas.

  8. 8
    Jules Jones says:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all, but I’m old enough to remember the attention-seeking nutters who publicly burnt copies of The Satanic Verses and publicly called for the same to be done to the author.

  9. 9
    Brandi says:

    I keep expecting people to act like fucking grownups.

    Don’t read many right-wing blogs/pundits, do ya?

  10. 10
    Alex says:

    Don’t read many right-wing blogs/pundits, do ya?

    There are immature nuts on both sides of the aisle.

    It’s a sad fact that some people develop stong feelings and opinions about politics, to the point that those opinions become OMG THIS IS TEH TRUTH and anyone who disagrees is either an idiot, unAmerican, eats babies, et.c

  11. 11
    Teddypig says:

    I am interested in if this “group” was even religious based. Could be just freaks responding to Random House’s doom and gloom press statement and deciding that they could use it for their own publicity. Because that is what Random House recklessly setup by acting like that was gonna happen.

  12. 12
    Peaches says:

    At first I was surprised, but then I remembered the out of proportion reactions to those Muhammad cartoons a while back and it was kind of “Oh yeeeeaah, some people are just that much ass.” 

    The biggest damage is how this could lead to lots of fear oriented censoring.  Hopefully the nice response time of the authorities will help some.  They had better still publish that book! (even if it is a D grade)

  13. 13
    Liz says:

    But hang on, surely the fear-orientated censorship already happened at Random House.  This publisher was trying to carry on despite that.

    (I hold no brief for or against RH and am not currently involved in publishing in any way, but the RH press release is all over the UK media at the moment. The other factoid – which actually came out first – is that this publisher is handling John McCain’s book in the UK).

  14. 14
    Vera says:

    I completely agree with Katie Dickson’s comment.

    One wonders if anyone would have gave a shite about this book if someone hadn’t run around screaming about it first. Such an apparently minor (not mention not very interesting) book probably wouldn’t have garnered much attention on its own.

    Some people need to be told when to be offended and at what. It’s certainly true with conversative groups here in the US; why shouldn’t it be true elsewhere?

    I bet none of the men who set the fire even bothered to read the book.  They needed an outlet for some destructive urges, and what better way than to tie it with their “Religious Devotion”. The story about the book just happened to be on the news a lot lately. if it wasn’t this publishing house, it would have been something else.

    Alas, Sarah – you are an optimist…

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    Vera: You’re right. I so am. You’d think I’d have learned better by now.

  16. 16
    J.C. Wilder says:

    This doesn’t surprise.

    What scares me is about how jaded I’m becoming when it comes to fucktards inflicting their ignorance on those around them.

  17. 17
    Silver James says:

    I wish I could say I’m surprised. JC, I’m just as jaded as you are.

  18. 18
    JaneyD says:

    Face it, there are some people who are still centuries behind the rest of the world in spiritual maturity and they are to be found in all religions.

    When I was a teen and heavily into being a foot-washin’ Baptist, I read an otherwise harmless book about how Mary met Joseph, married, and how he loved and protected his pregnant wife no matter what. It was sweet, and there was nothing offensive in it. The church library had several copies. I recommended it to my sister, who had converted to Catholicism when she married.

    She informed me that there were books on a banned list that she wasn’t allowed to read. My response was “You’re kidding! what kind of hide-bound ignorance club would be running scared of a YA book that just reading it would get you tossed out?” She just shrugged, accepting the rules without question. 

    Not long after I offered to adapt (unofficially) “A Wrinkle in Time” into a play for my church’s Christmas show. That book always struck me as being deeply spiritual, showing the lines between good and evil, etc. The director shook his head and turned me down flat. He’d read the book until it got to the bit where “Mrs Which” appeared, and said they could NOT have a witch on stage in a Baptist church.

    I pointed out that the spelling was different, and that it was an allegory while thinking “W-T-F??” That didn’t work either. We did some other play instead.

    It was about then that I decided I needed to be a Methodist for awhile.

    They had better potluck dinners, too.

    So if some morons are offended by a minor grade D novel, then their faith isn’t terribly secure. I’m reasonably certain that their flavor of deity is strong enough to weather the crisis without their help. If they could figure that out the world would be much safer.

  19. 19
    HK says:

    Well, not to be a wet blanket, but the news article stated they had no idea why this was started. The article speculated that it was related to this book, but the police aren’t giving any info.

    This isn’t the only book this publisher is/has published. These might be angry ex-employees or angry ex-lovers.

    Until we know more, we’re just giving into hysteria by assuming this is related.

  20. 20
    Alex Ess says:

    This post is depressing.

    More rude-shaped pot plants, please.

  21. 21
    Diane/Anonym2857 says:

    Now see… I’m not even sure which direction to aim my cynicism toward—

    a) I can see a bunch of zealots torching the place for insulting their religion, but

    b)  I can also see a bunch of beer-for-brains idjits who thought they’d light a match or two just to see what trouble it would cause (since it would ‘punish’ the publisher, as well as prolly send the blame towards the zealots). And yet I also would not be surprised if

    c) bad reviews and capitalism trumped freedom of speech and book sales weren’t jumping fast enough, so the publisher (or someone with an interest in the book) lit a match to stir up some outrage and more sales. Or

    d) all or none of the above.

    Diane
    An equal opportunity cynic

  22. 22
    Michele says:

    For some reason, I just have a mental picture of three morons out there throwing matches at the side of the building and blowing on it like crazy to get a good blaze going.

    Idiots.

  23. 23
    AgTigress says:

    What I keep returning to is the difference between setting certain boundaries within one’s own belief-system and trying to impose those boundaries upon others, who do not share that belief-system.

    We all set boundaries in our minds:  there are things that any and every one of us considers deeply offensive, things that we should prefer not to encounter in books and pictures, because they would disgust and distress us.  Some of those things are considered beyond the pale (and often, outside the law) by most members of our society, while others may be purely personal dislikes.  Many of us are able to suspend the horror that we would certainly feel if we encountered a violent, bloody murder in real life, and are able to read about such things in a thriller quite easily;  there is a kind of reality-filter that we automatically interpose between the written word (or even, graphic image) and the response that would be evoked by the actual scene.  Ability to edit the way we experience the things around us is instinctive and essential. 

    But quite a few people are unable even to read about violence towards children or animals, because those, for various reasons, go beyond our instinctive boundaries, and we cannot divorce the fictional concept from the real-life one:  the filter stops working.  Reading fiction involves a great deal of suspension of our ‘reality’ responses, and we all have different stumbling-blocks.

    The crux of the matter is the extent to which we feel that some things that horrify us should be taboo to all – that those who write or publish a book that contains fictional violent abuse of a child, for example, should be stopped, if necessary by illegal means.  Censorship may seem a straightforward issue, but it is not, and never has been.

    I happen to have an instinctive sympathy with the Moslem position on fictional representation of historic characters.  My discomfort includes, but is not confined to, figures of religious significance, but while I assiduously avoid books that, for example, feature ancient pagan deities as modern characters, I accept that I have no right to prevent others from writing and reading them.  I detest the very concept of fantasy ‘alternative history’, but I know that it is popular, and my views affect only myself.

    Religious zealots of all stripes like to control the lives of those who do not share their particular view of the world, and their concept of right and wrong.  I can understand quite easily the real revulsion that many Moslems feel, not merely at misrepresentation of a revered figure in their religious history, but at any fictional representation.  It is disrespectful, in a way that seems quite clear to me.  But I cannot accept that a devout Moslem has any right to censor the reading choices of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, pagans or other believers or non-believers, any more than a follower of any of those belief-systems would have a right to decide upon the appropriate reading-matter for a Moslem.

  24. 24

    This kind of fanatism makes me scared, and even disgusted. We want to live in a free world, after all.

  25. 25

    There are immature nuts on both sides of the aisle.

    I’ll agree with this 100%.  The fact of the matter is that extremism is found everywhere. 

    Religious zealots of all stripes like to control the lives of those who do not share their particular view of the world, and their concept of right and wrong.

    Agree. 100%.

    One wonders if anyone would have gave a shite about this book if someone hadn’t run around screaming about it first. Such an apparently minor (not mention not very interesting) book probably wouldn’t have garnered much attention on its own.

    Yes.

  26. 26
    MS Jones says:

    You can’t buy publicity like this. The book may be bad, but now its success is assured!  As we learned from the saga of The Satanic Verses, the effect (assuming that this was, indeed, terrorism, and not ex-lovers, disgruntled employees, or a publicity stunt) will be to increase sales.

    After Iranian officials issued a fatwa and put a price on Rushdie’s head, bookstores were bombed. People died. Did that suppress the book?

    Au contraire.

    From the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Satanic_Verses_controversy wiki discussion of the controversy:

    Although British bookseller, W.H. Smith sold “a mere hundred copies a week of the book in mid-January 1989,” it “flew off the shelves” following the fatwa. In America it sold an “unprecedented” five times more copies than the number two book, Star by Danielle Steel, selling more than 750,000 copies of the book by May 1989. B. Dalton, a bookstore chain that decided not to stock the book for security reasons, changed its mind when it found the book “was selling so fast that even as we tried to stop it, it was flying off the shelves.” Rushdie earned about $2 million within the first year of the book’s publication, and the book is said to be Viking’s all-time best seller.

    Makes you wonder what’s really going on. Just an expression of self-righteous indignation?

    I detest the very concept of fantasy ‘alternative history’

    I used to dislike it too, but then I read the Temeraire books.

  27. 27

    When people are assassinated over cartoons and books, you know the world is one fucked-up place. It’s Banned Books week, Bitches. Go read one and rebel.

  28. 28
    T.R. says:

    No offense to those who believed that the book accurately represented the real people, but Aisha (the main character) was always said to be a strong willed and extremely intelligent woman by all the people who have written true accounts about their experiences with the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and his wives, friends and other followers of Islam at the time.

    I haven’t read the book, but i remember from your review that she was selfish, and one of those characters that made a billion screwed up mistakes and kept repeating them. My reaction was “what the hell”? Come on, all the accounts from back then, stated that she was extremely intelligent. In fact they said multiple times, that she was a voracious reader (w00t!) and was usually the person they turned to when they didn’t know what to do. For example, especially in matters involving justice and such. Selfish? Mistake laden? No freaking way. What the hell was the author thinking?

    Another issue was the portrayal of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). Lust driven? What the fucking hell? He was reputed by all sources that he was endlessly just, kind and definitely not an out of control moron who thinks with his dick like most men then and now. Hell, he’d never even been to Saudi Arabia’s equivalent of a stripper joint, which btw, they had even back then. (Yea yea, i know thats hard to believe but some people also say that Jesus was the son of god and not simply a prophet like in Islam) Muhammed (peace be upon him) was perfectly kind and just to all his wives. It wasn’t like a harem and they weren’t concubines. They married him for protection and love (not “true wuv” but mutual love and caring). Not because he wanted to fuck them.

    Ugh.

    So, what I’m trying to say here, is that yes it is extremely inaccurate and pretty offensive. I’m not saying that noooooo you shouldn’t read it cause it casts the leader of Islam in a negative light. Its just a complete pile of bullshit. I’m not supporting the terrorists (if they turn out to be) or any person who violently reacts to this. Its not even worth it. But if you just can’t keep your disgust and outrage (like me) quiet, then write something. Tell someone, it doesn’t matter what. Just make a non-violent statement.

  29. 29
    T.R. says:

    Oh and Agtigress, Moslem means something offensive in Arabic. I can’t remember exactly what but, it’s actually Muslim and not Moslem. Most people make that mistake but since it’s an honest mistake and i’m assuming you really didn’t know, it’s okay. Just thought you should know.

    I agree with what you said and i would like to add on that no one has the right to say what you should read, religious leaders or otherwise. We have free will and that means that we can choose to follow what someone says or simply pave our own path. It’s only when it interferes with someone else’s will is it wrong.

  30. 30
    JaneyD says:

    Thank you T.R.  Well said.

    I agree—non violent statements. Words do more work than bombs, any day of the week.

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