by Murtaza Hussain
Saturday, 13
August 2022
Reaction
16:50

Salman Rushdie won’t be the last

Thuggish crybullies will find more targets
by Murtaza Hussain
Salman Rushdie (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Salman Rushdie has been the target of the world’s biggest lynch mob for over three decades.

Ever since Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death sentence against him in 1989 over his novel The Satanic Verses, he has lived in and out of hiding for fear of Islamic extremists executing the verdict against him. Khomeini’s edict ironically boosted Rushdie’s profile in the press, and made him a cause célèbre for liberal free speech activists. Yet the threat against him was always real. The motive for Rushdie’s gruesome stabbing this Friday before a lecture in Chautauqua, New York, of all places, is not confirmed. Yet it seems that after three decades living under ominous threat, the writer’s luck finally ran out.

The Rushdie affair was one of those rare events that perfectly exposed a cultural fault line. Freedom of expression of an author, particularly when criticising religion, comes as close as it gets to being a solidly held value in the otherwise relativistic post-Christian West. The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any secular European or American. For Muslims though, the vast majority of whom are observant, it’s the reverse that is unconscionable: That blasphemy could be art, or that an individual’s freedom of expression could ever be viewed as more important than values a community holds sacred.

The entire debacle over his death sentence is far more revealing to me than anything that Rushdie wrote in a novel in 1989. I’m not a free speech absolutist, nor do I believe that secular progressivism should have a trump card over religion in the public sphere. What episodes of murderous crybullying like this show, however, is something intolerably pathetic and thuggish about the people doing the persecuting. Having evidently abandoned the idea that others might actually respect them and their beliefs on the merits, many Muslims have fallen back on either complaining about their hurt feelings in hopes of pity, or simply terrorising others into shutting up. That is not a sign of confidence or self-assurance about one’s identity or worldview. It is a sign of an inferiority complex of terrifying dimensions.

Contrary to popular belief, the apocalyptically thin-skinned reaction by many Muslims to offensive books, movies, and cartoons is not based something in the Quran that mandates a response to blasphemy. It’s a modern cultural phenomenon that also happens to be a concrete expression of decline. People who are self-assured in their beliefs do not have emotional meltdowns over perceived slights by others. They naturally fall back upon their own confidence and charisma in order to model a superior example. For what its worth, that’s an attitude that actually finds support in traditional religion — including in Islam. The idea that anything can be justified in the name of the hurt feelings of the weaker party reflects a departure from traditional religious ethics that is more akin to ideas popular in modern progressivism. If that comparison strikes you as surprising, consider that the tactics and psychology of modern Islamic extremism have always been heavily influenced by radical Western Leftist and anarchist movements.

Riling up a mob, yelling and screaming, or stabbing a writer you don’t like in the neck are not behaviours that make anyone else think that Islam has anything useful or admirable to offer the world. In addition to my own instinctive horror at the assault on Rushdie, who, frankly, never lived up to the hysterical Islamophobic caricature that Muslims have made out of him, that is why I’m completely opposed to these violent outbursts over blasphemy. There’s nothing to rationalise, explain, or defend here: It’s wrong. I don’t expect this will be the last such ugly incident. Yet I would hope that in future the people who should know better, including many educated Muslims, not hold us to a lower moral or intellectual standard than other people by attempting to justify them. To put it plainly, you’re not helping.

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Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago

Parking for the moment, the complicity of educated Muslims in creating the by now stiflingly oppressive cultural atmosphere which has been grinding away at freedom of expression, whittling it down to the point where few comedians are actually funny any more, and few creatives who produce literature have anything interesting to say any more, I point my finger, firmly and squarely, at the progressive left in all it’s myriads of forms, from the old fashioned Corbyinite type wings, to the modern Sally Rooney types. (What the right has been guilty of throughout of course, is large scale cowardice, in not challenging the erosion of freedom of expression from the get-go, but that is a debate for another day).

And to now see the grimly comical reaction to the attack on Rushdie, just head over to the graun, where there are multiple articles crying shock and dismay, equating it as an attack on freedom of expression itself – *and not a single one is open to comments*, no doubt for fear of comments about the Muslim community – thereby cementing the indulgence of precisely that right to feel offended by what someone says, and reacting with violence, that the left so cherishes. What those hypocrites over at the graun don’t seem to ever comprehend, is what is self-evident: that freedom of expression is meaningless unless it is extended to absolutely everyone, and in all contexts, including those who might express opinions that most would consider odious, or totally tasteless.

And my message to the progressive left is this: you wanted this, and you worked via the march through the institutions to create the ecosystems of simultaneous suppression of free speech and indulgence of minority groups, that have brought about countless numbers of these types of outrages in recent years, so stop with the crocodile tears and own it – it belongs firmly to you.

Last edited 3 months ago by Prashant Kotak
J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Outstanding comment.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

thoroughly agreed

M Pennywise
M Pennywise
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Hear hear!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

You’ve nailed it.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
3 months ago

So it was wrong because it shows Muslims in a bad light?
Or it was wrong because Rushdie is not as islamophobic as he is sometimes said to be?
How about it is wrong because it’s wrong to try to kill somebody for what they have written?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 months ago

I loved Midnight’s Children, the only “magical realist” novel that I found to be any good before I gave up on them, about halfway through getting bogged down in Shame.
And it doesn’t matter what I think of the books – the persecution of Rushdie is a disgrace. Let’s face it – the assailants and murderers know nothing of and care little about the book, they just know Rushdie and anyone associated are approved targets, like psychopathic prisoners beating up sex offenders.

David U
David U
3 months ago

One of the ironies of the last half century is that the settled populations of the West have been coerced, into adopting extremely liberal values whilst millions of Muslims whose beliefs are extremely illiberal have been allowed to settle here.

Last edited 3 months ago by David Uzzaman
Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
3 months ago
Reply to  David U

Not ironic to anyone whose mission it is to deconstruct Western society as punishment for perceived past sins. And they are legion.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
3 months ago

I tried to buy The Satanic Verses this afternoon, but the bookshop didn’t have any copies left.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It is a well above average novel. But Salman Rushdie ought to be famous for Midnight’s Children or The Moor’s Last Sigh instead. The man who had already won the Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children did not need to call Mrs Thatcher “Mrs Torture” in order to make his very good point, while giving the names of Muhammad’s wives to prostitutes was just bad taste.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It’s worth reading…if only to marvel at how disproportionate the reaction to it was back in the day. I watched the pictures of the protests against the book on TV when I was 7 and wondered what on earth this book could have in it to provoke such widespread hysteria. A teacher at my rural primary school was rumoured to have read it and was thought quite daring.
Fast forward to 2007 when I finally read it and the only thing I found remotely shocking about it was the oddly extensive description of someone’s flat feet. I should give it a reread.

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
3 months ago

The author states “That is not a sign of confidence or self-assurance about one’s identity or worldview. It is a sign of an inferiority complex of terrifying dimensions”. I don’t think that is generally true. I think most Muslims are very confident in their beliefs and the violence we see is the result of a very thin skin and a belief that questioning or mocking their religion warrants punishment of medieval severity.

Nicholas Rowe
Nicholas Rowe
3 months ago

Why don’t the so-called pagan religions, such as those of the Romans, Greeks, Saxons and the present-day Kalash, need blasphemy laws?
Is there something about monotheistic religions that result in this reaction? Belief in any of the monotheistic religions is as strong today as it has ever been among those who believe. In that sense, Christianity isn’t declining, as is often claimed.
Or does the God of the monotheistic religions suffer from some sort of fragility? Do the religious ever consider what God thinks of their religion? Perhaps God is thoroughly sick and tired of religion, especially if the activities of the believers give him a bad day in the public relations department.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

You may be right about polytheistic religions not having the concept of blasphemy, but the Romans (about whom I know) did have the concept of sacrilege, hence the trial of Clodius Pulcher for profaning the rites of Bona Dea when he dressed as a woman to gain access to this all female sacrament. I suppose if he had claimed to be trans then they would have had to let him in; the Romans being so progressive when it came to such things.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
3 months ago

The Romans were highly tolerant and very open to imported religious cults – particulay from the middle East and Egypt, for 400+ years, which you will know.

Until the establishment of Christianity as the official, and only permitted, religion of the Empire under the reign of Theodosius I – under pressure from fanatical and fascistic Church fathers. This intolerance was adopted by Islam when it spread throughout much of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
3 months ago

They generally weren’t bothered about importing cults, although they drew a line at astologers and where not that tolerant of those who would emasculate themselves to become priests of the goddess Cybele. What was important to the Roman state was that due devotion was given to the Roman gods as well as your own, forgetting to propitiate the Roman gods, especially the major trilogy, could lead to dire consequences for Rome, hence a number of lararia have been found with images of Roman gods and of Christ. Jewish people were generally given a pass on the veneration of the Roman gods, but not always, it depended on the emperor of the day. Not having a written scripture nor a set of dogmas was helpful in being more open to other people’s gods. In fact, the Romans expected other cultures to have their own gods, a defeat of this culture was also a defeat of their gods.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

The main takeaway from the article is the lack of self-confidence and insecurity manifest in the reactions of the followers of Islam (or at least, their ‘political wing’) over the last half-century.

Before that, the wars of attrition fought by Protestants and Catholics ripped Wedtern civilisation apart before the Enlightment, and remnants continue in places such as Northern Ireland even when the theological disputes are barely even understood.

The conclusion is that the problem is human, and cultural, with religion being a facade. We are truly in an era when the dividing line is between intelligent understanding and compassion for the human condition and an atavistic nihilism embraced by the progressive left and those who the author identifies as latching onto its modus operandi.

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve Murray
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
3 months ago

Good stuff. Just needs another one and a half billion of your fellow religionists to say, and believe, something similar instead of buttoning their lips and pretending it’s not their problem.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
3 months ago

There may be nothing technically specific in the Quran that mandates the killing of critics, but Mohammed himself ordered their murder. Look up Mohammad’s Dead Poets Society for a number of examples, and the treatment of anyone not Islamic enough throughout history. This column is a standard attempt to deflect attention from Islam’s supremacist and murderously intolerant reality onto the influence of ‘modern progressive ideas’.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
3 months ago

He is a standard elite liberal politically, but I am a huge fan of Salman Rushdie as a novelist. If there is a more imaginative writer of fiction in English today, then please let me know who that is. If anyone had still wanted to implement the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa, then that would have happened a long time ago. It is no longer Iranian policy, just one of an immeasurable number of fatwas, on every issue under the Sun, to have been issued by scholars who, being dead, cannot rescind them. Instead, among the living, things move on.

Mark my words, this attacker may or may not have been a nominal or even a practising Muslim, but he was on one or more of illegal drugs (probably cannabis), antidepressants, and something like Ritalin. I do not doubt that this attacker was at least culturally a Muslim, but the common denominator in these cases, which are strikingly similar across the backgrounds of the perpetrators, is drugs, and especially cannabis, as well as antidepressants a lot of the time. Many of them have also been prescribed things like Ritalin. But cannabis is the big one. White “lone wolves”, black “gang members”, and “homegrown Islamist terrorists” who are usually brown, are always on drugs, and usually on cannabis, of which the prevalent view is extremely dated if it ever was true, and appears to be derived from Scooby Doo.

The Right used to hate Rushdie. He himself made no bones about his dislike of Thatcher’s Britain, and its outriders therefore denounced him in the strongest possible terms as an ungrateful immigrant who had brought his persecution on himself. Do read The Satanic Verses. It is a well above average novel. But he ought to be famous for Midnight’s Children or The Moor’s Last Sigh instead. The man who had already won the Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children did not need to call Mrs Thatcher “Mrs Torture” in order to make his very good point, while giving the names of Muhammad’s wives to prostitutes was just bad taste.

Andy Griffiths
Andy Griffiths
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Some excellent points. However, having at one time in my reckless past been a cannabis user myself, I can confirm that the “Scooby-Doo” image of cannabis is not entirely inaccurate…

Last edited 3 months ago by Andy Griffiths
M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

Murtaza Hussain wrote, “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any secular European or American.”

That statement is flawed and should be changed to “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any Westerner.” Westerners respect a person’s right to express views that may offend people.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, most residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

In the United States, the trend of rejecting freedom of expression grows and strengthens as 2040 approaches. Canceling a person and physically assaulting a person (like Salman Rushdie) are two manifestations of the same trend of intolerance.

If Salman Rushdie had done his presentation in a state like Montana, where Western culture still thrives, he likely would not have suffered an assault. If a Middle-Eastern, Hispanic, or African thug had attempted to assault Rushdie, European-Americans in the audience would immediately restrain and pummel the thug.

By contrast, in New York (where the actual assault occurred and where Western culture is waning), the assailant assaulted Rushdie without significant intervention from the audience.

Get more info about this issue.

Javier Quinones
Javier Quinones
3 months ago

Islam…

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

Murtaza Hussain wrote, “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any secular European or American.”

That statement is flawed and should be changed to “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any Westerner.” Westerners respect a person’s right to express views that may offend people.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, most residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

In the United States, the trend of rejecting freedom of expression grows and strengthens as 2040 approaches. Canceling a person and physically assaulting a person (like Salman Rushdie) are two manifestations of the same trend of intolerance.

If Salman Rushdie had done his presentation in a state like Montana, where Western culture still thrives, he likely would not have suffered an assault. If a Middle-Eastern, Hispanic, or African thug had attempted to assault Rushdie, European-Americans in the audience would immediately restrain and pummel the thug.

By contrast, in New York (where the actual assault occurred and where Western culture is waning), the assailant assaulted Rushdie without significant intervention from the audience.

Get more info about this issue.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
3 months ago

If what we believe about God is true blasphemy has no impact on him/her, so it is our problem not theirs. I find it offensive because I am a believer but not something to kill over. Just avoid the source of the blasphemy.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
3 months ago

Should we hold anything as sacred? As this article says, don’t the truly confident laugh at their big fat egos? This sounds like an act from Julius Caesar ‘Speak hands for me!’ because the violent take things too seriously, especially their position in society. A confident person doesn’t want to go down in history as the murderer of anybody (John Lennon, JFK, Gandhi etc). They have signed the ‘X’ for no publicity in their lives. They just want to get on with living, not seeking that most treacherous of desires – attention addiction. This is a worldwide problem, seen in The West as the young immolating themselves on the fires of social media and destroying their future through bodily ‘enhancements’ that are anything but and sex change operations that most don’t need but would be better seeking psychological help for the rest of this insanity that most are pursuing (or is this the lie, promoted by the engine of publicity and newsworthy exploits). Perhaps the Muslims are right about modesty over this travesty but like all fires this will eventuality burn itself out we can but hope (unlike the real ones of global warming and a totally different stupidity, pulling the carpet away from under our feet).

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

Murtaza Hussain wrote, “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any secular European or American.”

That statement is flawed and should be changed to “The idea that someone should have to die for publishing a book is simply incomprehensible to almost any Westerner.” Westerners respect a person’s right to express views that may offend people.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, most residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

In the United States, the trend of rejecting freedom of expression grows and strengthens as 2040 approaches. Canceling a person and physically assaulting a person (like Salman Rushdie) are two manifestations of the same trend of intolerance.

If Salman Rushdie had done his presentation in a state like Montana, where Western culture still thrives, he likely would not have suffered an assault. If a Middle-Eastern, Hispanic, or African thug had attempted to assault Rushdie, European-Americans in the audience would immediately restrain and pummel the thug.

By contrast, in New York (where the actual assault occurred and where Western culture is waning), the assailant assaulted Rushdie without significant intervention from the audience.

Get more information about this issue.

Last edited 3 months ago by Matthew M.
M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

Last edited 3 months ago by Matthew M.
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Is there any way I can prevent your nonsense from appearing on my screen. I’ve no interest in your constant complaining about Hispanics being shoehorned into every article, especially as you’re implying that they will outnumber whites in the States within 20 years, despite whites currently outnumbering them by just over 3 to 1

David Bell
David Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Isn’t Spain part of Western culture?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
3 months ago
Reply to  David Bell

Don’t go there. This has been pointed out so many times but M.M. takes no notice.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 months ago
Reply to  David Bell

As far as I can see, “Hispanics” in race-obsessed USA generally but not always refers to mestizo Spanish/Indian from Latin America.