Sunday, 17 June 2007

Iran condemns knighthood for Sir Salman Rushdie


Iran has today condemned the decision to confer a knighthood on Sir Salman Rushdie, the Booker Prize winning author of "The Satanic Verses". It was the publication, in 1989, of this controversial novel which prompted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a "Fatwa" (death warrant) against the Indian-born, Rugby and Cambridge educated British citizen, forcing him to spend almost a decade in hiding.

Iran formally revoked the fatwa in 1998 however some Islamic clerics maintain that it is irrevocable and have urged their followers to kill Rushdie.

Speaking earlier today, Iranian spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini declared that "Honouring and commending an apostate and hated figure will definitely put the British officials in (a position) of confrontation with Islamic societies."

Hosseini continued: "Giving a badge to one of the most hated figures in Islamic society is basically an obvious example of fighting against Islam by high-ranking British officials."

Whilst I have no particular interest in Sir Salman's novels I am pleased to see him honoured as his knighthood demonstrates that whilst honouring our own we will not be intimidated or influenced by outside political pressures.

It is of course ludicrous to claim that this honour is "an obvious example of fighting against Islam by high-ranking British officials." Were this true we would not have seen a 2005 knighthood bestowed by The Queen upon Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, described by The Guardian as the "Most Influential Muslim in the UK".

Rather than criticise the British government, Iran should congratulate Britain for having recently raised a number of British Muslims to the highest ranks of British Society as members of the House of Lords. These include Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, the first Muslim peer; Lord Patel of Blackburn, leader of the British Hajj Delegation; Baroness Falkner of Margravine; and Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green.

Of course this incident does give rise to the question: Which is the greater honour? To have received a Fatwa or a Knighthood? Certainly in the case of Sir Salman both are badges of distinction, one demonstrating his commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of expression and the other acknowledging his contribution to literature.

A hearty congratulations to Sir Salman Rushdie, Knight Bachelor.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I am pleased to see him honoured as his knighthood demonstrates that whilst honouring our own we will not be intimidated or influenced by outside political pressures." That is your opinion, I see it as being a politically motivated recognition. Contrasting views, in deed.

"It is of course ludicrous to claim that this honour is "an obvious example of fighting against Islam by high-ranking British officials." Were this true..." Ludicrous? I wouldn't go that far. Rushdie insulted many individuals with his writings - is it not then justifiable to make such a statement, if an individual's work, which many find rather preposterous in its insinuations, is commended in such a way?

Rushdie is a self-obsessed egomaniac - why add fuel to the fire?

Neil Welton said...

What a marvellous blog Rafal. I read it quite often. You have been born with a wonderful brain. I rather enjoy delving into it. Make sure that you do thank your parents the next time you see them - on my behalf, of course.

Now to the point at hand.

Anonymous - I rather like "self-obsessed egomaniacs". They add a certain colour to life. A certain sparkle. Sadly, this is quite unlike people who post anonymously who, in the main, are as dull as ditch water with the intellectual abilities to match. I think you will find it is called cowardice. A most unfortunate streak in a "man" - rather like jealousy.

I am "insulted" weekly for what I believe. No death threats yet but, no doubt, that will be next. I am therefore surprised that anybody in Britain would seek not to defend Rushdie.

Now don't get me wrong. I happen to believe that what Sir Salman writes is drivel. It does not interest or inspire me in the slightest. Yet, rather like The News of the World, I tolerate it. For I have the maturity to understand that in such an intellectually diverse society there is a need for drivel. I therefore support Sir Salman's right to print drivel. His opportunity to be knighted for printing drivel. Why not add fuel to Salman's fire? The last time he did so it was most revealing about the state of our inner cities.

Young Fogey said...

Dear anonymous, given Rushdie's numerous literary awards I think some might have felt that his state honour was long overdue. (As I have said before, I have no particular interest in Sir Salman's writings and I am in no position to provide my own view on their literary merit; I merely acknowledge the praise and recognition of his peers).

I note that your selective quotation ends just prior to the list of devout British muslims who have been honoured by the Crown. Surely the fact that they were honoured demonstrate that there is no anti-muslim agenda at play here.

Dear Neil,

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Rafal - interesting blog you've got here!

I'd just like to make a contribution:
The British are known to be tolerant and, as such, I will tolerate Rushdie's knighthood.
Nothing more, nothing less.

I am not what one would call a fan (Neil, I share your opinion in thinking he writes "drivel"), but I see no reason in bickering over it.

Whether it is a "politically motivated recognition" or not makes no difference to me.

He's been knighted - good for him!