Sherry Jones just wanted a nice blurb for her novel, said Ron Hogan in Mediabistro's Galleycat blog. But when she sent a scholar an advance copy of The Jewel of Medina—a racy fictional account of the life of one of the prophet Mohammed’s wives, A'isha—she got swept up in a holy war. Random House, fearing violent reaction by Muslim extremists, decided not to publish.

“The series of events that torpedoed this novel," said Asra Q. Nomani in The Wall Street Journal, “are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.” As a Muslim writer, “this saddens me” because “fiction can bring Islamic history to life in a uniquely captivating and humanizing way.”

True, “anyone should have the right to publish whatever” he or she “wants about Islam or Muslims,” said Shahed Amanullah in, but Muslims shouldn’t “be expected to be passive consumers of these views.” Violence is certainly never the right response, but “offended” Muslims have “the right—indeed, the responsibility—to vigorously critique anything written about them or their religion.”