Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rushdie? Here we come!

Given any remote chance, the predictable Rushdie bashers will rear their heads. Soon after it was known that Rushdie had become Sir Salman, a storm of protest emanated from Iran and Pakistan.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a press conference: "Giving a medal to someone who is among the most detested figures in the Islamic community is... a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials. The measure that has taken place for paying tribute to this apostate and detested figure will definitely put British statesmen and officials at odds with Islamic societies, the emotions and sentiments of which have again been provoked."

Then came Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq who told the parliament that the move insulted Islam and that it may lead to terrorism.

Thankfully, I haven't read of any protest in India to Rushdie’s knighthood. Not yet. But then my heart sinks each time I remind myself that India was the first country to ban The Satanic Verses.

I believe censoring often creates more problem than what it resolves. Look at the scare associated with Mozart's opera, "Idomeneo", that featured the severed head of Mohamamed, amongst other sacred figures. The Berlin Opera self-censored the production, refusing to go ahead with the controversial piece in September last year. Reams were written about freedom of expresson, volumes spoke about respecting the belief of others. But finally the opera went ahead without any incident in December! Perhaps we would have been better off without that unwarranted ban.


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