Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Rushdie-case: the eerie precedent

The Danish english-language blog Agora has for the benefit of the rest of the world translated an enormously interesting piece on the precedent to the Mohammed-drawing case that the Rushdie affair 17 years earlier was. I have to confess that all I remembered was Rushdie getting a death sentence from the Iranian mullahs over his book, but this article rolls the entire affair up, showing how it snowballed and ended with multiple assassinations and -attempts on people who worked with the book. An appetizer from The Satanic Precedent of the Muhammed Cartoons:

The debate now became hot in the media and on January 29, 1989, 8000 Moslems marched in London protesting Salman Rushdie and his book. At this point, the seriousness of the matter must have dawned on Salman Rushdie since he realeased a statement to the press in which he assured that he was a good Moslem and that he saw Muhammed as one of the great geniuses of world history. He also made clear that his book was not anti-religious. But to no avail. The monstrosities had only just commenced.

Enter Khomeini

In Islamabad in Pakistan 10000 people marched on the American Center on February 12, presumably to protest the upcoming release of The Satanic Verses in the USA. Shouting “American Dogs” and “Allah is Greater”, the mob tried to enter the Center with the purpose of torching it. A guard was killed, becoming one of six casualties that day. The Police crushed the demonstration and about 100 were injured. Rushdie accused the leaders of the demonstration of using the issue to further their own agenda and the United States Ambassador to Pakistan voiced his suspicion that Iranian or Libyan money financed the protestors.

Next day in Srinagar in India, one was killed and 60 injured during demonstrations. “That very night,” writes the Historian and Expert on the Middle East Daniel Pipes in his excellent book The Rushdie Affair, from which most of the examples in this article have been taken, “the matter was taken out of the hands of the protestors in the street and taken to the national, political, level.” That night Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had come to power through the Islamic Revolution in Iran 10 years earlier, decided to issue a death sentence to anyone connected to the dissemination of The Satanic Verses.

It remains to be hoped, that the parallels to the Rushdie case do not extend to some of them, or the later publishers, being killed. As is, several apparently rich moslems have poted bounties on the heads of either the artists who drew the Mohammed drawings, alternatively on those of Danish soldiers in Afghanitan.



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