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.