Friday, June 29, 2007

Much Ado About Rushdie

I was on a BBC radio programme recently, in conversation with a certain Minister of a certain Religious Affairs Department of a certain Muslim country. The topic of the debate was, of course, the recent furore over the award of a knighthood to the British author Salman Rushdie. In the course of the programme, a number of listeners called in to add their opinions to the debate, with a considerable number of Muslim callers from Europe and North America decrying what they saw as the amateur theatrics of some hot-headed Muslims who had gone on the warpath, condemning Britain, the Queen of England, the West, the ubiquitous global Jewish-Zionist conspiracy, et al. for this affront to Islam…
Farish Noor gives his take on Rushdie's knighthood.

Meanwhile, Boyd Tonkin in the Independent welcomes back:
... the pious fact-resistant bullies who never read the man they still want dead, the shameless political spivs on a vote-hunt and (worst of the lot, because they would once have known better) the screamingly self-righteous leftist academics who parade their ignorance and malice in sub-literate tirades.
And Tonkin reckons that:
Almost the only good thing to emerge from this dismal reprise is a terrific spoof protest invented by the Hindustan Times of Mumbai. Its cod report discloses that an association of people not born at 12 has mounted a campaign against Midnight's Children as a "wilful act of provocation that has hurt the feelings of those who were born at other times of day". "By honouring Rushdie, the Queen has insulted the more productive hours of the day." Moreover, Rushdie himself was not even born at midnight: "He is full of self-hate and has crossed over to the other side to belittle all of us."
Amen!

Rushdie didn't need this honour to confirm the fact that he is one of the most important writers of our time and has significantly changed the literary landscape. But now he's been offered it, he should be allowed to accept it in peace.

9 comments:

Greenbottle said...

ah, sorry sharon;

you pressed my red button again...
all these make me sad... why the hell people like rushdie, and the rest of his supporters including farish don't just leave us alone...i just wonder.

there were at least 2 blog discussions on the guardian about this issue recently so, no need to add anything further...

oh by the way, i was reading robert fisk monumental book on the middle east last night and i can understand why osama was soooo mad about amrika and the western world...

animah said...

"...why the hell people like rushdie, and the rest of his supporters including farish don't just leave us alone ..."

I think it's the other way round.

bibliobibuli said...

i knew you'd say that greenbottle but i wasn't trying to wind you up. just happened to like these two pieces i linked to.

Greenbottle said...

madam animah;

that couldn't be right surely? who kicked the sand first eh? one should not underestimate reactions especially from such a broad spectrum of humanity.

Poppadumdum said...

Rushdie deserves the honour for expanding the borders of literature and making us think and act - RATIONALLY and objectively, which is what humans do.

animah said...

I am trying to understand why my fellow Muslims react so emotionally when it comes to issues like Rushdie, Apostasy and non halal food.
If only they could adopt the same passion when it comes to corruption, inhumane treatment of illegal immigrants (who are also humans, by the way), environmental degradation, etc. - you get my drift.

Greenbottle said...

animah;

many aspects of injustice you mentioned are of universal concern and theoritically should be taken care of by laws and we all should rightly feel passionate about these injustices too.

But when it comes to specifics which are not well taken care of by existing laws due to various reasons like apostasy (from islam) & insults and disrespects to religious sensitivities , well you can't blame people being over sensitive because they feel they are not properly protected and you never know where these disregards to muslim sensitivities would lead to if these are not properly checked.

Anonymous said...

I think what's puzzling about Muslim reaction is the failure of many to recognize that despite Rushdie's blasphemy, he is a good writer, and that is something worthy of honour. Not only is he a good writer on his own, his writing style -- and a good deal of its substance -- has inspired many others.

The Queen is not a Muslim, and despite the royal family being head of the Church I hesitate to call them Christians, either. Rushdie's blasphemy may be a serious issue to Muslims, but it's not an issue to the Queen. Even so, the Queen is not honouring Rushdie for being a good Muslim. She is honouring him for being a good writer.

Perhaps, instead of decrying the issue and calling for a protection of 'our turf', more Muslims should come out and contribute to society in outstanding ways. Islam has a lot of good principles and many brilliant people have emerged from it during the age of Islam in medieval days. The fact that the current wave of Islam is anti-intellectual these days is quite distressing.

-
Karcy R.

Sufian said...

Rushdie, a good writer?

mmmmmmmaybe not.