London, July 8 (ANI): Three Islamic fundamentalists have been jailed for an arson attack on the home of a London-based publisher who planned to publish a novel about the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride.
Fundamentalists doused the door of Martin Rynja's home with diesel and set ablaze after discovering that he intended to publish Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina, an "offensive" book about the prophet, The Times reports.
The attack on the home of Rynja has been compared to the campaign against the publication of Salmon Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
The arson was led by Ali Beheshti, who was photographed three years ago at a London protest with his baby daughter dressed in a pink bonnet bearing the slogan "I love al-Qaeda".
Undercover police followed Beheshti and the other attackers for several weeks and saw them monitoring the publisher and trying to avoid detection by changing their clothes.
Beheshti, 41, and Abrar Mirza, 23, admitted conspiracy to commit arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered. Abbas Taj, 30, was convicted of the same offence at Croydon Crown Court in May.
Justice Rafferty, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, sentenced each of them to four and a half years in jail, saying: "If you choose to live in this country, you live by its rules."
The judge described Rynja as "a principled" man who had "exercised critical judgment on a literary work and stood up to be counted, knowing that publishing it put him at risk".
Rynja's publishing company, Gibson Square Books, bought the rights to the novel after Random House dropped plans to publish it, fearing "acts of violence".
Jones, an American author, had insisted that her book was respectful towards Islam and Rynja said he felt that its publication was part of a liberal democracy.
Andrew Hall, QC, said in mitigation for Beheshti that the arson attack was "an act of protest born of the publication of a book felt by him and other Muslims to be disrespectful, provocative and offensive.
"He wishes me to say now, publicly, that he considers his conduct to have been misguided, disproportionate and counter-productive," he added. (ANI)