Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rushdie on a "Reformation"   posted by Razib @ 8/07/2005 01:41:00 PM

A reader pointed me to this article by Salman Rushdie in The Washington Post where makes the argument, roughly, that Muslims in the West need to push forward into a new paradigm where they are able to" the revelation of their religion as an event inside history, not supernaturally above it." We have discussed this point several times, and it seems clear that saying it must be so won't make it so.

But relating to Rushdie, in 1989 when the controversy over The Satanic Verses broke out I was in a rural village in eastern Bangladesh. Some men approached my brother and I with photocopies that described the exact character the book, which was depicted as a novel which asserted that Muhammed's wives were "harlots," and then went into more explicit detail. Obviously in hindsight I realized that what I encountered was bizarre propoganda, and it was difficult for me to translate into Bengali since I didn't know many of the words in that language, and as a pre-teen I didn't particularly feel comfortable in repeating some of the sexually charged accusations made against Rushdie's work. But in any case, Rushdie's article is clearly aimed at Westerners, not Muslims, with whom he has no credibility as an unbeliever.

Rushdie points out that that the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, acknowledged that the Muslim community's own had committed the 7-7 outrages, but that this same man said in 1989 that '"Death is perhaps too easy" for the author of "The Satanic Verses."' Rushdie also reports that he favors the religious-hatred bill. He said on Jan. 13, "There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist. This is deeply offensive. Saying Muslims are terrorists would be covered [i.e., banned] by this provision." You read this post over at Butterflies and Wheels to get a secularist perspective on this issue. But here is the kicker, this man has been knighted by the Queen! (ergo, the Sir in front Iqbal Sacranie's name) As I noted in my post Analogies going off base the term "moderate" can have different meanings in different contexts, and Sacranie might well be a moderate in the Muslim milieu of Britain. But he is also a man of illiberal instincts from what I can gather, and Salman Rushdie certainly hasn't forgotten that, though it seems that the British establishment has become sanguine to this reality...though perhaps pointing that out is "Islamophobia."