A German book publisher has canceled a novel about Islamic "honor killings," fearing that the book would offend the Muslim community and put him in danger. Critics of the decision call it a cowardly move, but others say the publisher is simply being responsible.
The publisher of the book, which was to have been titled "To Whom Honor is Due," has indicated that he withdrew the book after an expert on Islam warned that some of the passages could spark violent retaliation from Muslims.
"After the Muhammad cartoons, one knows that one can't publish sentences or drawings that defame Islam without expecting a security risk," Felix Droste, of Droste Verlag publishing, told the German newspaper Der Spiegel last week. He referred to a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were published in Denmark in 2005 and sparked deadly violence across the Muslim world.
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam.
This new controversy comes on the heels of Yale University Press' refusal to print the cartoons that were published in Denmark in a new book that details the controversy surrounding them.
It also recalls other recent incidents: In 2008, Random House pulled The Jewel of Medina, a book about one of Muhammad's wives, and in 2006 a German theater cancelled a play in which Muhammad gets beheaded.
Gabriele Brinkmann, the author of "To Whom Honor is Due," has been speaking out about the cancellation of her book.
“It’s a scandal for a publisher to tuck its tail between its legs. This is anticipatory obedience," Brinkmann said, according to the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung.
But Droste Verlag spokeswoman Nora Tichy pointed to statements by Droste that were published Wednesday, in which he said he was primarily motivated by a desire to respect all religions — "whether Christianity, Islam or Judaism." He said he still plans to release a book that involves an honor killing next year, but that it will not contain controversial passages such as one in the cancelled book in which a chracter says "You can shove your Koran up your…”
That passage, said Ibrahim Hooper, director of communications for the Council of American Islamic Relations, would offend Muslims. But while he would prefer to see the book go unpublished, he said Droste has every right to release it.
"Obviously it's offensive. The question is do they have the right to publish it, and the answer is yes," Hooper said.
"Now, they also have the right not to publish. That's really something that should be up to the publisher. And we would hope that [the decision] would be based on good faith and respect for others and not due to potential violence."
But Nonie Darwish, the author of "Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law," said the publisher had every right to be afraid.
"The publisher is being realistic in their fear of retaliation from Muslims," Darwish told FOXNews.com. "I cannot blame the publishing company. I blame Western governments, [the] legal system and police who are not protecting the infidel West from the danger of Islamic assault on Western civilization.
"I am often amazed by Muslims who are offended by criticism of Islam but at the same time curse and encourage jihad and violence against Jews, Christians and non-Muslims. If Muslims want respect from others they must remove the tons of commandments to violence against others."
But Hooper, calling Islam a religion of peace, said critics like Darwish exaggerate the meaning of the book's cancellation.
"I would disagree with the statement that Islam is a violent religion," he said. "Come on. There is a cottage industry of Muslim-bashers and hate-mongers, on both the Internet and talk radio, who seize on every opportunity to falsely portray Islam as a religion of violence. This is just another example."
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, author of several books, including "The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom," said cancelling the book is not an isolated case.
"[M]ost academic and mainstream publishers won’t even consider books that might offend Islamists or Muslims," she said. "The West has, so far, given in and censored its writers and artists in order to avoid being sued or bombed. Appeasement will get us nowhere. "
Hooper said that any violence the publishers worried about had been committed by people who misused Islam.
"Unfortunately there are any number of incidents around the world that falsely use Islam as justification for inappropriate actions. That's something that we have to deal with. But that doesn't mean that we have to accept the smears and defamation of Muslim bashers."