& occasionally about other things, too...

Friday, January 20, 2012

In support of Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie was invited to the Jaipur literature festival, but the rector of India’s leading Islamic seminary, the Darul Uloom of Deoband objected to his presence. Many Muslims have found Rushdie’s Satanic Verses offensive. 

India was among the first countries to ban the novel – the ban hasn’t been lifted till now. 

William Dalrymple, writer and one of the festival organiser, said in a statement, "Salman is a writer of enormous breadth. His … passionate engagement with Indian Islamic history shows he is far removed from the Islamophobe of myth. This is a great tragedy, and we hope he will be able to come back again in the future."

The Guardian (London, England) reported: 

“On Friday, the British Indian writer Hari Kunzru caused further upset by reading a section from The Satanic Verses, which remains banned in India. Further attempts by writers to read from the book were stopped by organisers.

"Willy, Sanjoy: why did this happen?", Rushdie later asked Dalrymple and the festival's producer, Sanjoy Roy, protesting against their decision to prevent further readings from the banned work...

Indian officials told the Guardian they feared action by groups run by Dawood Ibrahim, a well-known crime boss living in exile, who they believe is closely linked to the Pakistani security establishment. Security experts, however, described the idea of killers being dispatched by organised criminals to kill the author as "extremely far-fetched. 

The struggling Indian government, led by the centre-left Congress party, has made no public statement on the row. There are major state elections in the coming weeks in which the votes of Muslim communities will play a critical role. The festival's organiser, (Sanjoy) Roy, said there was a need in India "to question … why we continue as a nation to succumb to one pressure or another." "This is a huge problem for Indian democracy," Roy said.

As a mark of solidarity with Rushdie, Generally About Books is reproducing an extract from Satanic Verses. 

The human condition, but what of the angelic? Halfway between Allahgod and homosap, did they ever doubt? They did: challenging God’s will one day they hid muttering beneath the Throne, daring to ask forbidden things: antiquestions. It is right that. Could it not be argued. Freedom, the old antiquest. He calmed them down, naturally, employing management skills à la god. Flattered them: you will be the instrument of my will on earth, of the salvationdamnation of man, all the usual etcetera. And hey presto, end of protest, on with the halos, back to work. Angels are easily pacified; turn them into instruments and they’ll play you a happy tune. Human beings are tougher nuts, can doubt anything, even the evidence of their own eyes. Of behind-their-own-eyes. Of whyatm as they sink heavy-lidded, transpires behind closed peepers… angels, they don’t have much in the way of a will. To will is to disagree; not to submit, to dissent.

I know; devil talk. Shaitan interrupting Gibreel.


[…] His name: a dream-name, changed by the vision. Pronounced correctly, it means he-for-whom-thanks-should-be-given, but he won’t answer to that here; nor, though he’s well aware of what they call him, to his nickname in Jahilia down below—he-who-goes-up-and-down-old-Coney. [Coney Mountain in Rushdie’s rendering is a pun on many levels, and a reference to Mount Hira, where Muhammad is supposed to have had his first Koranic “revelation.”] Here he is neither Mahomet nor MoeHammered; has adopted, instead, demon-tag the farangis hung around his neck. To turn insults into strengths, whigs, tories, Blacks all chose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn; likewise, our mountain-climbing, prophet-motivated solitary is to be the medieval baby-frightener, the Devil’s synonym: Mhound.

That’s him. Mahound the businessman, climbing his hot mountain in the Hijaz. The mirage of a city shines below him in the sun.”

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