Salman Rushdie Knighthood – Honour or Insult?


The Asian View with Bushra Irfan

Many are claiming that the ‘Honour’ bestowed on Salman Rushdie of being knighted is, as the Muslim Council of Britain have claimed to be, the final insult to Muslims by Tony Blair before his departure.

The constant denial by the British Authorities that the wars on Muslim countries were mere coincidences and in no way related to any victimisation of Muslims does seem to conflict with the current action. One cannot help but feel that the Muslim religion is itself becoming the focal point of attack.

With regards to Salman Rushdie and his book the ‘Satanic Verses’, I can only state that as a literary piece it was described by critics as being how ‘a paranoid schizophrenia views the world through the filter of his madness’. The claim that The Satanic Verses was blasphemous because it seemed to ridicule the Muslim religion in a way which was unacceptable, did not seem to find any favour in the Western World who seemed to be all the more compelled to defend it.

This appears surprising to me and a little hypocritical. The fact that blasphemy is against the law in England only for the religion of Christianity is in itself hypocritical and totally unsuitable for a multicultural society which should take into account and respect everyones values and beliefs. Religion is such a sacred and personal belief

that it can be quite offensive to the individual if it is abused. Criticism is certainly different to abuse and should not be confused with it.

If it is an offence to be abusive amounting to blasphemy against the Christian religion so why do people find it difficult to understand why Muslims would also find it offensive and illegal to abuse their religion? Okay, I don’t agree that he should be given the death sentence but I also do not think he should be made a martyr. If it is accepted that the Satanic Verses amounts to blasphemy then clearly he has breached a major principle, and if the law applies equally to everyone, the law, and therefore should be punished not rewarded.

Instead, the British government has gone overboard in fuelling the fire started by Salman Rushdie by going to the other extreme by giving defence statements on his behalf and protection which is undoubtedly being paid by the taxpayer and assisting in condemning Muslims for daring to be outraged. The story might have been quite different had it been the Christian religion which was being thus abused. Then the Western World would have been insisting in the whole worlds cooperation in isolating and condemning him (albeit not with the death sentence as such but certainly torture and imprisonment is not so far off).

Instead of showing sensitivity to the feelings of the British Muslims, it seems the British government has thought it fit, in this day and age of attempting to achieve integration and unity, to employ double standards by giving a person who has offended a whole sector of their society the honour of knighthood which only goes to show that the British government whilst asking for cooperation and integration is actually creating rifts in society.

In any event I find the excuse given by the Committee which recommended him for knighthood that they did not anticipate the furore and the Writers organisation giving the recommendation that they were hoping this would improve relations between Britain and Asia totally unacceptable.

They were all aware that at the best he was an inflammatory figure who had shown insensitivity to a large sector of their community. There was no sudden magical book he had recently written or apology or event he has recently carried out which could envisage the society from overlooking his reasons for being given protection and hiding from society.

The committee should have taken into account Salman Rushdie’s public profile along with the reasons for recommendation and balanced them before giving the honour. This was clearly not done. The only comment I can make is that if the Muslim countries decide to honour a person like Abu Hamza who is inflammatory to the Western World, how would the British government then feel?

Anyway with all the furore of cash for honours, is there any credibility actually left in whether those who receive the honours actually deserve them?


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