June 18, 2007

Arise Sir Salman

Muslim figures from across the world have risen to condemn the recent knighthood granted by the Queen to now Sir Salman Rushdie, motions have been passed in the Pakistani Parliament and a minister there said it justified suicide bombings against Britons, the Iranian foreign ministry condemned it and the Muslim Council of Britain described it as a 'final insult' to the Muslim community of the UK.

I want to say something right here and now before I begin writing about this- which is that I have to take on trust the merit of Rushdie's work, I have to my shame not read enough to comment on whether he deserves the knighthood for his literary output, though he is definitely seen as a major figure on the literary landscape- there is no doubt that some of his novels like say Midnight's Children have been major events within the world of books. My only defence of his desert of the title is based therefore on heresay- so I won't be able to answer any questions with regard to his work.

But the inhabitants of Multan in Pakistan aren't burning his effigy in honour of a dispute about his works literary merits- they are burning it because they think that in the Satanic Verses where Rushdie implied that Muhammed was a paedophile he insulted Islam. It strikes me that writers and philosophers the world over will always insult the sensibilities of all the religions. It gives me great pride as a Briton that we could recognise Sir Salman for his literary merit, just as we would recognise a poet that insulted Christianity, without worrying about the sensibilities of those who would close down expression. I will post more on this later but have to dash- however as a final word, its a good day today to be British- arise Sir Salman of Free Speech!


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well said, Gracchi. I haven't read much Rushdie either but my first reaction to all this outcry was that people are missing the point - it's for good writing, not content, for goodness sake!

Political Umpire said...

Andrew Marr made a good point in the Torygraph today - if Pakistan really object as they claim, they could protest by returning the money they received in aid from Britain last year ...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed the similarity between Dame Jade Goody and Sir Salmon?

Both have brought a lot of money to media interests, both get death threats, both induce burning protests in ex-colonies, both went to elite universities, both get considerable coverage of what they do in public, both have interesting "partners", both have rudely challenged "sacred cows".

Anonymous said...

"The "I" in Islam ain't not the same as the "I" in Inglish, innit?". Dame Jade Goody

Anonymous said...

In the "West", and the parts that Heineken can reach, the approval meter for Rushdie (though not necessarily for all he says or believes) has been evidenced by the sales of his books. There had already been a vote on this. There had also been a retreat from his opponents.

Now the "State" has been suddenly been hijacked by some unelected, unaccountable "board" to stamp "State" approval on what has already been approved and has stirred up some (lets not beat about the Bush) predictable "State" reactions.

This was in fact totally unnecessary from any point of view other than for than for furthering the "State's", or the board's, agenda, simple self-aggrandisement, or worse.

For this reason I see no problem with the "State" apologising for causing other "States" offence on their own behalf without dragging the readers into it.

Frankly, I do not see it as the "State's" role to go around unproductively poking other people in the eye at inconvenient moments. I am perfectly capable of doing that myself.

edmund said...

Obvious i'm pleased that we're not going to back down from many muslim outrage (though it's worrying the committee according to some press acconts seemd to think it would be popular among the islmaic world -a worryingly level of ignornace which i think illustreates the head inthe sand approahc to Islamic issuesof the British establishment )

having said that one shouldn give people honours becasue they've been threatned for thier free speech - otherwise Ian pailsy would have recieved an honour many decades before he was . I dont' know much about his work either but what littel i know makes me insitnctively sceptical , I'm very dubi0us about magical realism and his non literary activisty seems undistingusiehd and predicatable.

as for that "we could recognise Sir Salman for his literary merit, just as we would recognise a poet that insulted Christianity" would the same be true if they insulted Darwinism or Feminism? or are some things too sacred? -}

Gracchi said...

Edmund to be honest I think the quality of the literature is the question with the knighthood- I don't know his work well enough so am not going to comment- magical realism if done well can be wonderful but that's another day's debate.

As to say a sexist or a anti-Evolutionist receiving a knighthood actually yes by all means- one of the people whose work I most respect literaryly adn who I read a lot is Robertson Davies who might fill both those categories- anyone who hasn't read him should. And its my opinion that C.S. Lewis should have got a knighthood or a peerage as well for his work- both in children's literature and in Christian Apologetics- much of which could be styled a psychological essay as well as his literary work.

Muhammed AM said...

The Brits have lost their might, power, wealth and now "the minds".

A stupid writer who writes filth addressing your former PM Mrs. Thatcher and talks rubbish in his literature is given a Knighthood title? "Arise you Brits" - come out of darkness. You'll loose whatever respect is left of you today and in the coming generations for honoring a filthy-person.

Muhammed AM
New York

Gracchi said...

Muhammed I disagree completely with you. Thank you for your comment though

Anonymous said...


I believe that it is "der islam" that has actually lost its way. You behead people, eat children, slaughter the innocent, and yet have the gall to claim moral superiority?! I say, I think you are the one that will lose all in the coming years.

For too long you mohammedans have have been crying about being opressed. It is your own poeple that have been oppressing you. Wake up and realize that you believe a lie, a vicious lie that has been perpetrated so that some of your "leaders" can rape little boys without worry of being persecuted.

I am sick and tired of the moral outrage over the west freely excercising their hard won rights. If you don't like it then leave the west, go back to your precious middle East! Go back to herding sheep, just like your backwards ancestors.

Gracchi said...

Anonymous- I disagree with your comment as well as with Muhammed's- he is intolerant and you obviously know little of Islamic history- just think for a moment about where arabic numerals came from- or where Aristotle reached the West from.

outsider said...

gracchi what in annoynomous comment suggests he doesnt know about arabic numerous ect-how does his ignorance of arabic or muslim history manifest itself?

I thought the muslims got aristotle from the orthdox intially?

and what about someon who (unlike CS Lewis) did not support legal equality of women?

Gracchi said...

Outsider I think to be honest Anonymous goes far too far in characterising Islam as a cannibalistic and paedophilic religion- I was just pointing out that Western civilisation depends upon the proliferation of Islamic texts. Perhaps you disagree Outsider- definitely seems from your comment that you disagree.

Just a point- the West couldn't get hold of Aristotle before Averroes- for a simple reason they couldn't talk Greek.