Why the attack on Salman Rushdie is an attack on our society
Author Salman Rushdie, who suffered years of Islamist death threats after writing The Satanic Verses, has been stabbed on stage in New York state.
The Booker Prize winner, 75, was speaking at an event at the Chautauqua Institution at the time. New York State Police said a man ran up onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie, who is now undergoing surgery at a local trauma centre.
Every intelligent person should be not just shocked but outraged at the attack on the writer Salman Rushdie.
He suffered up to 15 separate wounds – all knife stabs into the freedom of imagination and expression that keeps us human. It is all the sadder that, after years of living as a fugitive, Salman had bravely started living as a normal citizen in the world. He could write books, find love and – seemingly – travel freely.
Those of us who remember the outcry from Muslims around the world, when the ‘Satanic Verses’ was released on the 26th of September1988, will be all too aware that we are not dealing with an isolated number of extremists, the venom of fanaticism has become deeply ingrained in Muslims around the world, who have no hesitation to resort to violence and even murder, if or when they feel offended.
At the time, the reaction literally took the world by storm, how could it possibly be, that in the twentieth century, a talented writer could become a pariah for simply expressing an opinion, after all, isn’t faith an opinion? Isn’t our choice of moral path our choice? Do we not have the right to question? Indeed we do………or rather, we did!
The Iranian fatwa issued on Rushdie on the 14th of February 1989 – effectively a death sentence – was a terrifying moment not just for the author, but the nation, too. It seemed to catch us unawares. We were appalled at the idea that writing a novel could lead to death.
Here in the UK, there was also a massive hostile reaction to the book, with many prominent Muslims, speaking out in condemnation of the book, but more profoundly, the author. How could a nation such as the UK, permit people to publicly call for the murder of a writer, without consequence?
Some of these outspoken Muslim community leaders went on to be founder members of The Muslim Council of Britain, an organisation claiming to represent the interests of Muslims in the UK, in fact, there have even been Muslim MPs protesting in Parliament that this organisation has not been given the respect that it deserves, yet……….what is their position on The Satanic Verses?
The Muslim Council of Britain has remained silent. They represent the vast majority of Muslims in the UK, yet they have not condemned the attack on Salman Rushdie, what does that tell us? If anyone committed such a heinous crime against an innocent person in the name of any other minority, or group, would they not immediately rush to condemn that act and distance themselves from it?
The sinister response to The Satanic Verses should be of concern to all of us, we have a threat that lives amongst us, gaining in numbers on a daily basis, practicing their own laws in a ‘parallel society’ draped in fanaticism, intimidation and malice, quietly building its numbers and plotting against us, or are they?
There is no doubt that the polarisation of cultures and beliefs will come to a head one day, but in the meantime, what is my immediate concern? I would like to see genuine Muslims, of which there are thousands, gather in large numbers and condemn this ‘Fatwa’ condemn the attack on Salman Rushdie and accept that they live in a western society, where freedom of opinion and expression is the cornerstone of our success.
It was the separation of Church & State that freed us from the shackles of narrow-mindedness that led to unimaginable horrors, even in this country. A time where people were burned at the stake for heresy, where un-married mothers were locked away, or put to death. We all have an obligation to preserve this freedom to the death, because people gave their lives for our freedom, we must priorities our obligations rather than our rights, because there is a dark veil that awaits us, should we not and if that veil were to be drawn, it would cast an infernal shadow upon us that will strike at the very core or our being.
I would like to state that I have no issue with anyone’s faith or opinion, it is the differences in our opinions that make humanity so special, but we should celebrate these differences and respect the right of others to believe whatever they wish, but they MUST NEVER impose their opinion on others., that is the foundation of a secular society.
I know that their are many good Muslims out there who disagree with violence, there has never been a time when their voice is needed than now.