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Islam and Salman Rushdie



I had two reasons for disliking Salman Rushdie. He impressed me as a great egotist. Above all, he aroused the fury of Muslims, who issued a fatwa at a time when I hoped we could let the Islamic dog lie. It was rumored that he has ties with the Jews and that his wife is Jewish (Is that true?). Now the Islamic god is barking and biting. and he has little to do with it. Michael Sullivan has sent me an interesting article by him entitled "Yes. This is About Islam". It is a retort to the constantly repeated mantra that we are fighting terrorism, not Islam. This is the theme:

"This isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West, partly because if the United States is to maintain its coalition against terror it can't afford to suggest that Islam and terrorism are in any way related. The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side?"

One exercise now is quoting the Koran to prove that Islam is peaceful. Like Rushdie,who quotes sutras to prove his case, Marga Jann says this is not true. The problem is that the same use of selective quotes can be made about the Old Testament, with its Lord of Hosts. It was terrorists like the Stern gang which forced the violent creation of Israel. All kinds of things can be proved with selective quotes, such as "Shakespeare was a Catholic". The answer may be "By their fruits ye shall know them".

Street demonstrations are no evidence of majority, even modest support, and many Muslims are opposed to bin Laden. We have no Gallup polls. Rushdie rightly says "Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world". Travel in space, travel backward in time. Islam is now in the state Europe was in the fifteenth century. It is now divided into Sunnis, Shiites, and minor groups like the Wahabites. Other major divisions may arise, like Catholics and Protestants in Christianity, and Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform in Judaism.

Ronald Hilton - 11/4/01


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