"Although it is impossible to count the books authors have abandoned, radical Islam is probably the greatest cause of self-censorship in the West today. When Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, censorship took the form of outright bans. Frightened publishers would not touch David Caute's novel satirising the Islamist reaction to The Satanic Verses, for instance. They ran away from histories and plays about the crisis as well because they did not want a repeat of the terror Rushdie and his publishers at Penguin had experienced.
"Such overt censorship continues. In 2008, Random House in New York pulled The Jewel of Medina - a slightly syrupy and wholly inoffensive historical romance about Muhammad's child bride Aisha - after a neurotic professor claimed that it was 'explosive stuff ... a national security issue'. Most of the censorship religious violence inspires, however, is self-censorship. Writers put down their pens and turn to other subjects rather than risk a confrontation. So thoroughgoing is the evasion that when Grayson Perry, who produced what Catholics would consider to be blasphemous images of the Virgin Mary, said what everyone knew to be true in 2007, the media treated his candour as news. 'The reason I have not gone all out attacking Islamism in my art,' said Perry, 'is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.'"
-- Nick Cohen