Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Protesting Rushdie

Perusing in the Guardian about the piece on the break-up of Rushdie's marriage (which interests me not at all and probably you guys even less) I came across a mention of anti-Rushdie protests in Malaysia. Funny how our local papers didn't mention this!

The Herald Tribune picked up the story as did Channel News Asia. Apparently 30 (or was it 50) members of PAS turned up at the gates of British High Comm and began chanting Destroy Salman Rushdie, Destroy Britain! and demanding that London withdraws the knighthood. (More on the demonstration and more pics on the Pemuda PAS Willayah blog.)*

Maybe those of us in favour of Rushdie receiving the award should write a letter of support and deliver it in similar fashion!

Though something tells me that the IHT and other international news agencies wouldn't be interested in a group of people who weren't propagating an intolerant stereotype for convenient western consumption.

Postscript:

This is an interesting opinion piece about Rushdie's knighthood in the New Straits Times by the vice-chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dzulkifli Abdul Razak. He points out:
... to knight or not to knight is a sovereign prerogative of the nation concerned. It is not an international recognition and as such need not overtly concern any outsider. ... (but) to protest or, worse still, to riot is a misplaced action. The question is this: Why did some Muslim communities react the way they did?

This needs to be raised now so that Muslims are not constantly subjected to harassment each time a nation decides to do something that is not to their liking. Otherwise, this would eventually render the community to be somewhat like a Pavlovian dog that "salivates" at will.
Postscript:

How very ironic that a comment (politely worded, considering) that I left on the PAS Pemuda blog this morning got wiped off. I pointed out that I found their cry of "Destroy Britain" deeply offensive, Any remnant of respect I might have had for this organisation is now in the dustbin.

33 comments:

Glenda Larke said...

Would love to have been there to ask those finger waving morons how many of them had actually READ the book that got them so upset...

Greenbottle said...

ai ai...interesting!
i'm glad some people showed their displeasure here too and gladder still they did it not with book burning or bombings...

only 30?I'm dissapointed. obviously no publicity was given otherwise there would be a lot more i'm sure.

and glanda larke, , not too many people including his suppoters read rushdie's books either... even readers of this bibliobibuli blog sometimes just read harry bloody potter...these people are likely to support rushdie but not neccessarily read him too...

Radical Scope said...

hmm... kinda remind me of something from "the secret" dvd. if you focus your energy on something, the more it will become a reality? yeah. since they focus so much on salman rushdie (without reading his work), the more things that they don't like, similar to their views on salman rushdie, will appear. i wonder who's next?

bibliobibuli said...

greenbottle - yes, it was a peaceful protest (apart from some very incendiary chanting which i as a brit find deeply offensive) and protest should be allowed in a democratic society. and i do respect your viewpoint (which is based on having read the book)though without sharing it.

ziauddin saadar in "desperately seeking islam" writes very intelligently on the issue, hating "the satanic verses" but condemning the fatwa. maybe i should blog about that.

but the great thing about you, mr greenbottle, is that you can sit down and talk and debate intelligently, and you can formulate an argument in writing.

but just look how the protesters just play into the hands of the western media perpetuating a stereotype.

Greenbottle said...

dear miss bib...i don't know what exactly you mean by .."without sharing it"...if you mean about what i think about the book? as i mentioned sometimes back in your blog, the ONLY time i did a book review (of some sort) was the article that came out in NST sometimes in 1996 precisely about this issue and his book and it's entitled "butdoyousee it's a bloody insult spoono yar?.." unfortunnately i don't have an electronic copy otherwise i could display it here...

and please don't underestimate the intelligence of people who oppose this, they may not write here but they surely discuss and probably write elsewhere...why, even some western writers and non muslim religious leaders were also against rushdie during that time...

and i'd like to quote one of my favorite writers..will self who said this recently...

".... Given the furore that The Satanic Verses occasioned, it does strike me that any responsible writer might ask himself whether the fallout from accepting such an honour was really worth the bauble ... it is surely better that writers decline any form of honour."..."
http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2106966,00.html

and i guess i would be very impressed and respect rushdie if he'd turn down the offer...

ps...i'm currently reading ziauddin sardar's book...interesting topic but not terribly a good writer in my book...

bibliobibuli said...

you're right ... which is why i mentioned sardar, greenbottle! it's a bit different when the screaming hordes are shouting "destroy britain" though ...

actually i do tend to underestimate the intelligence of anyone who indulges in herd-like mob mentality

bibliobibuli said...

plus greenbottle, can't you find the article you wrote?? i'd love to read it

if rushdie turns down the offer it would be understandable, but he does deserve to be honoured for his contribution to literature ... he changed so much

Anonymous said...

How nice of IHT to put a picture from Pakistan over a title that says "Protests Spread to Malaysia..." :)

Ted Mahsun said...

What's this? They formed a Pasukan Anti-Salman (PAS)? Next thing you know these rowdy people will form a political party and take over the Malay hinterland!

The end is nigh!

Greenbottle said...

Ted;

better than UMNO (Untuk Melayu No Otak)

Sharon;

i have a clipping, i'll make a pdf and send through e-mail to you if you like...

bibliobibuli said...

i would like that greenbottle

Greenbottle said...

sharon,

done. sent to your jaring and streamyx e-mail. let me know what you think and we eat glass some more.

Janet said...

Thanks for pointing out the article on the protest, Sharon. Yet another moronic and disgusting spectacle by ignorant Malaysians who know nothing and yet have a lot to bleat about. Who cares if Rushdie has a knighthood or a sainthood? Malaysians should learn to protest about things they SHOULD be protesting about, like the environment, the government, the education system etc. etc. Always poking their noses into other people's businesses before checking their own flaws. Idiots!

Poppadumdum said...

I have to agree with Janet above. Add to her list: corruption, nepotism, demolition of places of worship, NEP, lousy TV, brainless radio DJs who prattle on nonstop at loud volume...

bibliobibuli said...

Malaysians should learn to protest about things they SHOULD be protesting about, like the environment,

what was that shocking statistic in the NST some months ago - one river in three in this country (with one of the world's most stunning natural environments) is seriously polluted. who can claim the moral high ground when this is the case?

there's a lot more to be angry about as you both say. but this abuse of the environment makes me angriest.

Poppadumdum said...

Your comment got wiped off? Oh dear. This is so confusing. I thought they are proponents for reasoned discussions and freedom of expression? After all, they WERE given the freedom to express their displeasure, but decided not to grant anyone else with a contrary opinion this? I wonder why islam has such a lousy name around the world now?

Poppadumdum said...

Had a look at the pas website..."Agendi Yahudi" hahahahaha! What a joke! Can't they come up with something more original?
And the photos of the great unwashed masses...

Sufian said...

Islam has such a lousy name because of people like you poppadumdum who equate idiotic behaviour with Islam.

"If you tell a lie often enough..."

Remember that saying?

Radical Scope said...

umm... i thought that if you tell a lie often enough, no one will believe you and you got a free one-way ticket to that "warm" place we call hell?

ok, perhaps salman went overboard in his writing, and yeah, perhaps he didn't and shouldn't be given the knighthood or whatever-hood. but is it appropriate for us to actually behave in such a way, raising our fist, burning what-not, screaming and yelling and cussing, being a muslim and all? he even wear a ketayap some more...

isn't it ironic that we get hyped up at a book written by a muslim whom we have no clear idea what he was trying to say, but we don't give a damn about people who act in a way disgraceful to our religious image?

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - frankly i think there are quite a lot of people happy to do idiotic things in front of cameras i.e. screaming slogans about destroying other countries (in this case mine)and playing to the cameras of all who want to see the religion in this light.

Greenbottle said...

hey ho...

you guys who get offended by all the screamings and whatnots...

actually you proved my point...you guys reacted because you feel offended...you don't go burning things but you used strong words morons, idiot and whatnots...

actually it's the same...it's just a matter of scale...

who knows you guys may go burning and bombing too if you're angry enough... happened in hindu india, buddhist sri lanka, cristian rwanda etc ...hey ho....and don't forget hitler in enlightened europe...hey ho...and bush vs osama ...hey ho...of course you may say but these are different , these are not because of a mere book..but...it's think carefully, it's just same difference...hey ho

jen said...

Because you burn and bomb
I'll burn and bomb too
And then you'll burn some more and bomb some more
And of course I too will burn more and bomb more

Until we are all burnt dead and bombed dead.

How about we just insult each other instead? At least then the human race will survive.

-Jen

animah said...

For once I agree with Greenbottle (8.22pm) - although not directed at the earlier commentators. But what I believe Greenbottle has picked up is this: How angry do people get in order for them to go demonstrating, or worse, become "mobbish"?
It could be about any issue - insults to one's religion (perceived or otherwise), destruction of one's home, illegal invasion of another country.
All of us get upset about various issues, and we can now see what Sharon, Greenbottle, Viz, RX, Dean, Symposium, Glenda and I (and even Anon who's gone quiet lately) get upset about - they are all different issues.
The thing is why do we get upset and how upset do we get before we get "mobbish".
So what are the Muslims who demonstrate in this manner, really really upset about?
Think about it. It isn't about Rushdie. It isn't about the UK. It isn't even about Islam. That is just the manifestation of their anger.

Sufian said...

"but is it appropriate for us to actually behave in such a way, raising our fist, burning what-not, screaming and yelling and cussing, being a muslim and all? he even wear a ketayap some more..."

Wow. You use 'us' and 'our' like 'we' were actually there raising fists and chanting slogans. Trouble is, I don't remember being there, though (not in spirit, nor in flesh)... So i should be apologetic because... some people like to do idiotic things?

Greenbottle said...

why are people getting so uptight with people shouting and screaming and raising hands and whatnots ?( i'm beginning to like this word -whatnot).

when muslims do this we get tarred, but when westerners do the screaming and raising hands and chantings and whatnots for all kinds of demonstrations you guys seem to be ok with this? ( and it should be ok too...)

why do you guys look down to muslims with ketayap eh? so sad...so many coconuts bananas and wogs around...

Sufian said...

When other people do it, they're exercising their right of free speech. When muslims do it, they're vile, vile, vile terrorists hell-bent on the destruction of the world.

It is much much much easier to blame people wearing ketayap. I mean... they wear ketayap, what's there to like? They probably smell too, I'm sure.

Didn't Guantanamo Bay teach you anything, Mr Greenbottle? Rights are only for people who can afford perfume.

Greenbottle said...

ah mr suffian.you warmed my heart...by the way, do you happen to be "pessoa" in your previous incarnation somewhere?
i missed him...he's the only person i missed in another simpler alternate cyber universe ...

Pelukismelukis said...

"Rights are only for people who can afford perfume."

Is this true? Because at the moment, I can only afford Rexonna :P

p.melukis
The Unapologetic Banana Coconut Ice Cream

bibliobibuli said...

When other people do it, they're exercising their right of free speech. When muslims do it, they're vile, vile, vile terrorists hell-bent on the destruction of the world.

was pondering on this all day, sufian. i guess part of it is how you protest. i'm not exactly experienced at protesting but did march in london against the iraq war. we were a v. polite and somewhat subdued crowd of half a million or so - the war had already started and the tide couldn't be turned so all we could do is express our displeasure.

protest is good, a necessity

but when you're rallying cry is destroy a person/ country ... that's really incitement to hatred and aggression doncha think?

(i shouted slogans too but corny hippy stuff like "peace now"!)

and the western media just love this kind of view of islam - "look how irrational and violent these people are" so these protesters are playing into their hands while the peaceful rest go unnoticed

maybe i'm influenced also retrospectively by the terror attacks on britain, something which leaves me very angry indeed

i can't have the freedom of speech thing both ways. protest on but keep it nice!

animah - v. interesting point. i dunno what the anger really is about. maybe these folks think they OUGHT to be angry even if they have never read the book? i would get angry enough to be mobbish on some issues. but i hope i wouldn't shout "destroy"!

Sufian said...

Sharon,

It's an interesting dilemma. There is no such thing as freedom of speech (and here I am stealing Stanley Fish's ideas).

Freedom of Speech is such an ideal thing that, only a deranged or horribly naive (read: Americans) person would want it. In the context we usually discuss, freedom of speech is a reflection of the beliefs and notions of those in power; freedom of speech is freedom to say what is allowed by the people in power, not really 'Freedom' in the truest of sense, just freedom, with strings attached.

Even the word freedom itself is automatically limiting. If freedom exists, then, why must we use a word to define it, right?

+ + +

Yes, you're angry at the terror attacks in Britain, and I'm not denying your right to feel angry, but what about the rights of the Others (the smelly-ketayap-wearing-ones)?
Don't the multitudes who feel hurt by the attacks not allowed to express their anger? Or don't the smelly ones bleed when pricked?

Funny thing, a while back, the historian David Irving was jailed in Austria for 3 years because he was charged with denying the holocaust. Where is the voice, if I may paraphrase Mr. Sympozium, of the non-muslim moderates? All we can hear is deafening silence.

Giorgio Agamben wrote a thesis on Homo Sacer, individuals who exists in the law as an exile. The law, he claimed, is what gives us our identity, hence, by putting individuals outside of the law, we deprive him/her of his/her identity. He/She became a non-person, effectively.

This is not some erotic philosophical fantasy of a dilettante Italian philosopher; we see this in Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, and soon, in a theatre near you.

Sufian said...

Sharon,

Sorry, before 'the attacks', I lost a sentence; I meant to say, the Others were attacked too...

Mr Greenbottle,

The same. Yes.

Madcap Machinist said...

I'm named after the deposed shah of iran so i'm not really interested in all the fuss about Rushdie, but on the subject of a democratic protest:

protest is good, a necessity

but when you're rallying cry is destroy a person/ country ... that's really incitement to hatred and aggression doncha think?

(i shouted slogans too but corny hippy stuff like "peace now"!)

and the western media just love this kind of view of islam - "look how irrational and violent these people are" so these protesters are playing into their hands while the peaceful rest go unnoticed


-- point! the way these people go about it is a joke.

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - deep!