Feminist writer Julie Burchill has had her book contract cancelled after she told a Muslim journalist that the Prophet Mohammed was a paedophile.
Burchill had tweeted that Ash Sarkar’s worship of the Prophet was the ‘worship of a paedophile’, referring to the 7th Century leader’s marriage to his third wife Aisha when she was around 10.
Burchill’s book – Welcome to the Woke Trials: How #Identity killed progressive politics – was due to be released in March but was dropped by Little, Brown after the row.
The Hachette imprint said that Burchill’s comments were ‘not defensible from a moral or intellectual standpoint’ and had ‘crossed a line with regard to race and religion’.
It added that her book, which describes what happened after one her articles for the Observer was removed amid criticism that she had used ‘transphobic’ language, had become ‘inextricably linked with those views’.
Her latest spat began on December 13 when she rushed to defend journalist Rod Liddle after Sarkar criticised a 2012 article in the Spectator where Liddle said he didn’t become a teacher because he would want to sleep with pupils.
Feminist journalist Julie Burchill has had her book contract cancelled after her publisher accused her of ‘crossing a line’ by posting ‘Islamophobic’ comments on Twitter
The row began after Burchill, 61, leapt to the defence of Rod Liddle when journalist Ash Sarkar (pictured) highlighted a 2012 article in the Spectator where Liddle said he didn’t become a teacher because he couldn’t imagine not sleeping with the students
Burchill’s book – Welcome to the Woke Trials: How #Identity killed progressive politics – was due to be released in March but was dropped by Little, Brown after a row with Muslim journalist Ash Sarkar
Liddle wrote: ‘The only thing stopping me from being a teacher was that I could not remotely conceive of not trying to shag the kids. We’re talking secondary level here, by the way – and even then I don’t think I’d have dabbled much below year ten, as it is now called.’
Posting a portion of the piece, Sarkar commented: ‘It’s astonishing that both he and his editor thought guffawing about hypothetically being a paedophile made for a good article.’
In response, Burchill said: ‘Can you please remind me of the age of the Prophet Mohammad’s first wife? Thank you in anticipation.’
She later added: ‘I don’t WORSHIP a paedophile. If Aisha was nine, YOU do. Lecturer, lecture thyself!’
Sarkar subsequently accused Burchill of Islamophobia, with the exchange shared widely on social media.
Last night, Burchill revealed she had been ‘cancelled’ by her publisher following the row. She said: ‘Reason was ‘hate speech’ to Ash Sarkar and ‘crossing a line’ – There was also a concern that the line might be crossed again during the promotion of the book.’
Tweeting today, Burchill boasted about her cancellation and said she is ‘excited for imminent events’.
Sarkar said she was ‘appalled’ by Burchill’s comments, telling the Times: ‘It was quite upsetting to see that it’s not the first time she’s made derogatory insinuations about my faith.’ She added that she is discussing her option for further action with her lawyers.
But Little, Brown’s move has also been met with fury, with actor Laurence Fox calling for people to ‘play the game’ and boycott Hachette books.
He also tweeted that the word Islamophobia ‘a lie’, describing it as ‘a meaningless word scrabble of rubbish’.
The Free Speech Union, which represents Burchill, said it will be taking up her case. It called the cancellation of her book ‘a new low’, adding: ‘Appeasement is like feeding a crocodile in the hope he will eat you last.’
Last night, Burchill revealed she had been ‘cancelled’ by her publisher following the row. She said: ‘Reason was ‘hate speech’ to Ash Sarkar and ‘crossing a line’ – There was also a concern that the line might be crossed again during the promotion of the book’
Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill said that ‘this orgy of censorious fury ironically proves the point of Burchill’s book – that the unwoke are being tried and found guilty and cast out of polite society’.
‘If anyone ever again tries to say cancel culture doesn’t exist, remind them of this: a book on cancel culture was cancelled because the author made fun of Islam,’ Mr O’Neill added.
In a statement, Little, Brown said: ‘We will no longer be publishing Julie Burchill’s book. This is not a decision we have taken lightly.
‘We believe passionately in freedom of speech at Little, Brown and we have always published authors with controversial or challenging perspectives – and we will continue to do so.
‘While there is no legal definition of hate speech in the UK, we believe that Julie’s comments on Islam are not defensible from a moral or intellectual standpoint, that they crossed a line with regard to race and religion, and that her book has now become inextricably linked with those views.’
Burchill previously said that her desire to write the book had been sparked by the ‘vitriolic reaction’ she had received after writing an article in the Observer in defence of Suzanne Moore in 2013.
A synopsis read: ‘Welcome to the Woke Trials will be part-memoir and part-indictment of what happened to Burchill between then and now, as the regiments of the woke took over.
‘It will also be a characteristically irreverent and entertaining analysis of the key elements of a continuing and disturbing phenomenon – all told with the common touch and rampant vulgarity that has made Burchill a household name.’