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Rushdie on Fanatical Islam--From the NYTimes via the CR Forum

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  • james tan
    From: Christopher Bobo Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com To: Wisdom Forum Subject: [WisdomForum] Rushdie
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2002
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      From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
      Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      To: "Wisdom Forum" <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [WisdomForum] Rushdie on Fanatical Islam--From the NYTimes via the
      CR Forum
      Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 07:33:25 -0800

      November 27, 2002

      No More Fanaticism as Usual

      It's been quite a week in the wonderful world of Islam.

      Nigerian Islam's encounter with that powerhouse of
      subversion, the Miss World contest, has been
      unedifying, to put it mildly. First some of the
      contestants had the nerve to object to a Shariah
      court's sentence that a Nigerian woman convicted of
      adultery be stoned to death and threatened to boycott
      the contest - which forced the Nigerian authorities to
      promise that the woman in question would not be
      subjected to the lethal hail of rocks. And then Isioma
      Daniel, a Christian Nigerian journalist, had the
      effrontery to suggest that if the prophet Muhammad
      were around today, he might have wanted to marry one
      of these swimsuit hussies himself.

      Well, obviously, that was going too far.
      True-believing Nigerian Muslims then set about the
      holy task of killing, looting and burning while
      calling for Ms. Daniel to be beheaded, and who could
      blame them? Not the president of Nigeria, who put the
      blame squarely on the shoulders of the hapless
      journalist. (Germaine Greer and other British-based
      feminists, unhappy about Miss World's decision to move
      the event to London, preferred to grouse about the
      beauty contest. The notion that the killers, looters
      and burners should be held accountable seems to have
      escaped notice.)

      Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hashem
      Aghajari, a person with impeccable Islamist
      credentials - a leg lost in battle and a r�sum� that
      includes being part of the occupying force that seized
      the Great Satan's Tehran embassy back in the
      revolution's salad days - languishes under a sentence
      of death imposed because he criticized the mullahs who
      run the country. In Iran, you don't even have to have
      cheeky thoughts about the prophet to be worthy of
      being killed. The hearts of true believers are
      maddened a lot more easily than that. Thousands of
      young people across the country were immature enough
      to protest against Mr. Aghajari's sentence, for which
      the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, duly
      rebuked them. (More than 10,000 true believers marched
      through Tehran in support of hard-line Islam.)

      Meanwhile, in Egypt, a hit television series,
      "Horseman Without a Horse," has been offering up
      antiSemitic programming to a huge, eager audience.
      That old forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of
      Zion" - a document purporting to prove that there
      really is a secret Jewish plot to take over the world,
      and which was proved long ago to have been faked by
      Czar Nicholas II's secret police - is treated in this
      drama series as historical fact.

      Yes, this is the same Egypt in which the media are
      rigorously censored to prevent anything that offends
      the authorities from seeing the light of day. But hold
      on just a moment. Here's the series' star and
      co-writer, Mohammed Sobhi, telling us that what is at
      stake is nothing less than free speech itself, and if
      his lying show "terrified Zionists," well, tough.
      He'll make more programs in the same vein. Now there's
      a gutsy guy.

      Finally, let's not forget the horrifying story of the
      Dutch Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has had to
      flee the Netherlands because she said that Muslim men
      oppressed Muslim women, a vile idea that so outraged
      Muslim men that they issued death threats against her.

      Is it unfair to bunch all these different uglinesses
      together? Perhaps. But they do have something in
      common. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was accused of being "the
      Dutch Salman Rushdie," Mr. Aghajari of being the
      Iranian version, Isioma Daniel of being the Nigerian
      incarnation of the same demon.

      A couple of months ago I said that I detested the
      sloganization of my name by Islamists around the
      world. I'm beginning to rethink that position. Maybe
      it's not so bad to be a Rushdie among other
      "Rushdies." For the most part I'm comfortable with,
      and often even proud of, the company I'm in.

      Where, after all, is the Muslim outrage at these
      events? As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of
      love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by
      paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists,
      tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they
      not screaming?

      At least in Iran the students are demonstrating. But
      where else in the Muslim world can one hear the voices
      of the fair-minded, tolerant Muslim majority deploring
      what Nigerian, Egyptian, Arab and Dutch Muslims are
      doing? Muslims in the West, too, seem unnaturally
      silent on these topics. If you're yelling, we can't
      hear you.

      If the moderate voices of Islam cannot or will not
      insist on the modernization of their culture - and of
      their faith as well - then it may be these so-called
      "Rushdies" who have to do it for them. For every such
      individual who is vilified and oppressed, two more,
      ten more, a thousand more will spring up. They will
      spring up because you can't keep people's minds,
      feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how
      brutal your inquisitions. The Islamic world today is
      being held prisoner, not by Western but by Islamic
      captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that
      a badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as
      the majority remains silent, this will be a tough war
      to win. But in the end, or so we must hope, someone
      will kick down that prison door.

      Salman Rushdie is author, most recently, of "Step
      Across This Line."

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