Pak religious affairs minister: "Rushdie knighthood justifies suicide attacks against the west" protesters shout "kill him!"
June 18, 2007
MIM: For background on this see Dr.Daniel Pipes: "Intimidating the West from Rushdie to Benedikt"
Honour for Rushdie 'justifies suicide attacks against West'
GERRI PEEV POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
KNIGHTING Salman Rushdie was an affront to Muslims and justification for further suicide attacks against the West, a Pakistan government minister said yesterday.
Sir Salman, who had to go into hiding after his novel The Satanic Verses was denounced by Muslims, was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours on Saturday.
Yesterday, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's hardline religious affairs minister, told the parliament in Islamabad: "This is an occasion for the [world's] 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision.
"The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'Sir' title."
Members unanimously passed a resolution condemning the knighthood. However, one opposition MP, Khwaja Asif, said that it exposed a contradiction in the government's policy as an ally of Britain in the war on terrorism.
President Pervez Musharraf has long battled extremism in his own country, but anger on the streets showed the challenge he faces in trying steer public opinion away from fundamentalist elements.
In the eastern city of Multan, hardline Muslim students burned effigies of the Queen and Sir Salman. About 100 students carrying banners condemning the author also chanted, "Kill him! Kill him!"
Mr ul-Haq later played down the remarks, saying his aim had been to look into the root causes of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Downing Street refusing to be drawn on Mr ul-Haq's remarks.
Robert Brinkley, Britain's high commissioner to Pakistan, said:
"It is untrue to suggest that this in any way is an insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, and we have enormous respect for Islam as a religion and for its intellectual and cultural achievements."
Asked if he was concerned that the knighthood could provoke unrest in Pakistan, he said: "There's no reason for that."
Lord Ahmed, Britain's first Muslim peer, said he was appalled to hear Sir Salman had been knighted, describing it as a "provocative" decision that would damage Britain's interests abroad and community relations in the UK.
The Labour peer added: "This man not only provoked violence around the world because of his writings, but there were many people who were killed around the world. Honouring the man who has blood on his hands, sort of, because of what he did is going a bit too far."
Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said many Muslims would regard the knighthood as the final insult from Tony Blair before he leaves office next week.
This article: http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=958582007
Rushdie knighthood rekindles 18-year-old controversy
· Outcry after minister's suicide bombing remarks
Duncan Campbell and Vikram Dodd
The honour was intended to recognise the contribution to literature by one of Britain's most high-profile - and much vilified - writers. But the government's decision to give Salman Rushdie a knighthood has generated the kind of international furore that once threatened to engulf his career and put his life at risk.
Yesterday, indignation at the award for the writer of The Satanic Verses, spread to Islamabad, with one Pakistani minister reported yesterday as saying that a suicide bomb attack would be a justified response to the award of the knighthood.
The Pakistan parliament called on the British government to reverse the decision or face further protests from Muslim nations. "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, his act is justified," the minister for religious affairs, Ijaz ul-Haq, told Pakistan's national assembly, according to the translation from Urdu by Reuters. He urged Muslim countries to break diplomatic ties with London.
"This is an occasion for the [world's] 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision," said Mr ul-Haq, the son of the former Pakistan military leader, Zia ul-Haq. "If Muslims do not unite, the situation will get worse and Salman Rushdie may get a seat in the British parliament."
His comments were reported on local news networks and provoked an angry response around the world. Effigies of the Queen and Rushdie were burned in the eastern Pakistan city of Multan as students chanted "Kill him! Kill him!"
Mr ul-Haq said his main intention had been to examine the root causes of terrorism; he denied he was encouraging suicide bombing. The Foreign Office is seeking a full transcript of his remarks before making an official response.
Pakistan's lower house of parliament also passed a resolution condemning the decision to knight the Booker prize winner. "We deplore the decision," said Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam yesterday. Rushdie's knighthood would hamper inter-faith understanding, she said. "This we feel is insensitive and we [will] convey our sentiments to the British government."
Britain's high commissioner to Pakistan, Robert Brinkley, defended the decision to award Rushdie a knighthood and tried to defuse the situation. "It is simply untrue to suggest that this in anyway is an insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, and we have enormous respect for Islam as a religion and for its intellectual and cultural achievements," he said in a statement last night.
The Muslim Council of Britain, while condemning any threats to Rushdie's life, also attacked the decision to grant him a knighthood. "Salman Rushdie earned notoriety among Muslims for the highly insulting and blasphemous manner in which he portrayed early Islamic figures much-loved and honoured by them," Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said. "The insensitive decision to grant Rushdie a knighthood can therefore only do harm to the image of our country in the eyes of hundreds of millions of Muslims across the world," he added. "Many will interpret the knighthood as a final contemptuous parting gift from Tony Blair to the Muslim world."
Labour peer Lord Ahmed said: "It's hypocrisy by Tony Blair who two weeks ago was talking about building bridges to mainstream Muslims, and then he's honouring a man who has insulted the British public and been divisive in community relations."
It is believed Mr Blair was not involved in the decision to knight Rushdie, who has expressed delight at the knighthood. His name was recommended to the Queen by a cabinet office committee. A fatwa was imposed on Rushdie in 1989 by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The writer was forced into hiding and he was provided with a security team by the government.
Career of controversy: A writer greeted with veneration or violence
As he celebrates his 60th birthday today and the award of a knighthood for services to literature, Ahmed Salman Rushdie can look back on a career that has has attracted both great admiration and violent controversy.
Educated at the Cathedral School in his native city Bombay, Rugby and Kings College, Cambridge, he came to international prominence through his second novel, Midnight's Children, published in 1981 to universal acclaim. It won him the Booker prize.
It was his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, that provoked the ire of many Muslims and led to the issuing of a fatwa in 1989 by the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. Scotland Yard reported a number of attempts to assassinate him and he had to go into hiding with an armed police guard. The Japanese publisher of the book was killed, others associated with the book suffered attacks and threats. The UK broke off diplomatic relations with Iran; they were only restored in 1998 after the Iranian government had given assurances that they would not harm Rushdie.
Also the winner of the Booker of Bookers award, Rushdie's other works include Shame (1983), The Moor's Last Sigh (1995) and The Ground Beneath My Feet (1999).
Married three times, currently to Padma Lakshmi, he has two sons. He is based in New York after many years in London.
Intimidating the West, from Rushdie to Benedict
by Daniel Pipes
[NY Sun title: "A Look at Islamic Violence"]
The violence by Muslims responding to comments by the pope fit a pattern that has been building and accelerating since 1989. Six times since then, Westerners did or said something that triggered death threats and violence in the Muslim world. Looking at them in the aggregate offers useful insights.
These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: 8 years between the first and second rounds, then 5, then 3, 1, and ½.
The first instance – Ayatollah Khomeini's edict against Mr. Rushdie – came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. Seventeen years later, calls for the execution of the pope (including one at the Westminster Cathedral in London) had acquired a too-familiar quality. The outrageous had become routine, almost predictable. As Muslim sensibilities grew more excited, Western ones became more phlegmatic.
Islamists ignore subtleties. Mr. Rushdie's magical realism, the positive intent of the Supreme Court frieze, the falsehood of the Koran-flushing story (ever tried putting a book down the toilet?), the benign nature of the Danish cartoons, or the subtleties of Benedict's speech – none of these mattered.
What rouses Muslim crowds and what does not is somewhat unpredictable. The Satanic Verses was not nearly as offensive to Muslim sensibilities as a host of other writings, medieval, modern, and contemporary. Other American Evangelists said worse things about Muhammad than Rev. Falwell did; the southern preacher Jerry Vines called the Muslim prophet "a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives," without violence ensuing. Why did Norwegian preacher Runar Søgaard's deeming Muhammad "a confused pedophile" remain a local dispute while the Danish cartoons went global?
One answer is that Islamists with an international reach (Ayatollah Khomeini, CAIR, Mr. Khan, Abu Laban) usually play a key role in transforming a general sense of displeasure into an operational fury. If no Islamist agitates, the issue stays relatively quiet.
The extent of the violence is even more unpredictable – one could not anticipate the cartoons causing the most fatalities and the pope's quote the fewest. And why so much violence in India?
No conspiracy lies behind these six rounds of inflammation and aggression, but examined in retrospect, they coalesce and form a single, prolonged campaign of intimidation, with surely more to come. The basic message – "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an, Islamic law rules you too" – will return again and again until Westerners either do submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed.
Sep. 27, 2006 update: Several readers have offered other cases beyond the six catalogued here. They include:
But neither of these fits the pattern in that neither included statements or actions by Westerners that sparked unrest and violence in the Muslim world. Only the two individuals themselves were targeted. A third case comes closer to the pattern, but it took place in Nigeria, where the situation differs markedly from in the West.