A novel about a Muslim ‘honour killing’ has been dropped by its publisher because of fears about violent retaliation by Muslims.
German publisher Droste said it was worried about the repercussions of publishing the novel after Danish cartoons of Mohammed published in 2005 led to riots.
The publishers had reportedly contacted an expert on Islamic society, who suggested that a phrase in the book which was disrespectful of the Koran should be changed.
The author of the book expressed dismay at the cancellation.
Gabriele Brinkmann, who writes under the pseudonym of WW Domsky, said: “What on earth is this all about, where are we here? We are in a free country”.
She also said: “It’s a scandal for a publisher to tuck its tail between its legs”.
Felix Droste, who owns the publishing firm, said: “After the Mohammed cartoons, one knows that one can’t publish sentences or drawings that defame Islam without expecting a security risk”.
The book, which in English is entitled To Whom Honour is Due, was set to go on sale in September.
In August Yale University published a book about the Mohammed cartoons controversy but decided not to reproduce the original images for fear of violent reprisals.
Ibrahim Gambari, a top UN official, told Yale: “You can count on violence if any illustration of the Prophet is published. It will cause riots, I predict, from Indonesia to Nigeria.”
But the book’s author, Danish-born professor of politics Jytte Klausen, said: “My book is an academic book with footnotes and the notion that it would set off civil war in Nigeria is laughable.”
Prof Klausen argued for including the cartoons to help readers understand their impact.
“If we can’t look at them, how can we discuss this?” she asked.
As well as leaving out the cartoons which enraged protesters across the Islamic world, the publisher also decided to drop all illustrations of Mohammed.
These included an Ottoman print, an illustration from a children’s book, and a 19th Century sketch of a scene from Dante’s Inferno showing Mohammed in hell.