Men plotted against UK publisher of Mohammad book

The Star

LONDON (Reuters) - Two men admitted on Tuesday plotting to firebomb the London home of the publisher of a controversial novel about the Prophet Mohammad's child bride.

Ali Beheshti, 41, and Abrar Mirza, 23, were arrested last September after an arson attack on the house in north London where Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja lived and had an office.

The attack took place shortly before Gibson Square was due to publish "The Jewel of Medina" by journalist Sherry Jones, which traces the life of child bride Aisha from her engagement at the age of six to the prophet's death.

The building suffered minor fire damage after fuel was poured through the letterbox.

Beheshti and Mirza pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court in south London to conspiracy to recklessly damage property and endanger life, the Press Association reported.

A charge of arson with intent to endanger life was not pursued and they were remanded in custody for sentencing at a later date.

A third man, taxi driver Abbas Taj, 30, will go on trial next Tuesday charged with conspiracy to damage property with intent to endanger life and arson. He denies the allegations.

Gibson Square bought the rights to the novel after Random House dropped plans to publish it, fearing it could "incite acts of violence".

Jones said her book was respectful to Islam, and Rynja said last October that the novel was not offensive and that he felt its publication was part of a liberal democracy.

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