Islamists Rule American Publishing Industry

-By Warner Todd Huston

Correction 8/8/08: The original piece identified the Publisher, Cambridge University Press, as an American publisher. That was incorrect. Cambridge University Press is in England.

America is the land of liberty. It is the place where political expression is protected by law and custom. It is the freest nation on Earth… unless, of course, you wish to talk about Islam. Then, unless you bow and scrape, unless you assert its supposed peacefulness, unless you bend over backwards to make sure that you don’t “offend” Islamists, you will be shut down. At least this is true if you wish to publish a book about Islam, it appears.

Not long ago, a book titled “Alms for Jihad” was ridiculously voluntary destroyed, “pulped” being the term, by its own publisher. This unusual action was taken because one activist Muslim took the bookseller to libel court and won saying that he was somehow maligned by allegations in the book. The ridiculous part is that the book was published by Cambridge University Press, was sued by Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz in a British court, yet the authors were Americans. This foolish publisher voluntarily destroyed its entire run and went to the effort to send a letter to libraries to tell them to remove the book from shelves over the verdict of this foreign court.

Alarmingly, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz has been successful in at least 4 such libel cases against book publishers throughout the world in these compliant, malleable British courts.

A professor at Emory University, who won a libel suit in Britain brought against her and Penguin, Deborah Lipstadt, likewise told The New York Sun that this action by Cambridge University Press was a “frightening development.” She said that it seemed to her that the Saudis were “systematically, case by case, book by book” challenging anything critical of them or anything that linked them to terrorism. She said that she could not think of any publisher that would now accept a manuscript critical of the Saudis. “This affects not only authors but readers,” she said, adding that “ideas are being chased out of the marketplace.”

Fortunately, some authors are trying to fight back to some extent.

The director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, Rachel Ehrenfeld, said that Cambridge University Press “capitulated” and “didn’t even try to fight.” Sheikh Mahfouz sued her for her 2003 book “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It.” Rather than contesting the case in Britain, Ms. Ehrenfeld has taken to the American courts. In June, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in her favor, finding that if an American writer is sued for libel in a foreign court, that person can appeal to an American court to request that a British decision not be enforceable here.

But this is not the end of the matter. Sadly, another American publisher has capitulated in the face of the hatred and threats of radical Islamists. According to the Wall Street Journal, Random House has “abruptly called off publication” of a new book about the sex life of Aisha, the child bride of the pedophiliac Prophet Muhammad.

In fact, for the sum of a $100,000 dollar advance, Random House had already bought the book and had begun to plan the book tour for author Sherry Jones. But, the publisher abruptly changed their decision as word that the review copies sent in advance had brought warnings of unrest. Sadly, it seems an American professor is the one responsible for starting the Islamofascist ball rolling on this one. In an effort to silence the publication of this book, Denise Spellberg, associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, began to send warnings about the book to radical Islamists throughout the world.

After this Professor, a fellow traveler of radical Islam, got done rounding up the many hatemongers in Muslim communities she was in touch with, and her agitators in turn got in touch with the publisher, Random House got cold feet. In fact, they became scared to death.

On a May 21 conference call, Random House executive Elizabeth McGuire told the author and her agent that the publishing house had decided to indefinitely postpone publication of the novel for “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees.”

So much for America being the land of political and religious freedom, the land where anything can be achieved. It has become a land afraid of its own shadow, ruled by the stern warnings of lawyers and the fear of mob action. It has become a land where radical haters who claim to be “religious” can force law abiding citizens to live by foreign courts and ideas antithetical to liberty.

There was once a time when saying the west was not at war with Islam was all the rage. But as each year passes, that sentiment is proving to be woefully naive. If everything we are isn’t under siege from without, there never has been a time when we were.


Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as,, New Media Journal, Men’s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

Copyright Publius Forum 2001