The Sweetest Tale of Doom. Ever!

‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ by Salman Rushdie

The Story of Imam Ghazali’s Jinn and Ibn Rushd’s Jinnia (‘jinnani’ in Punjabi) begins with the orthodox Muslim philosopher Imam Ghazali finding a bottle with the spirit of a powerful jinn in it, and the unorthodox Ibne Rushd finding himself in possession of a jinnia who is the princess and the heir-apparent of the jinni world thriving above. The jinn is beholden by the Imam to spread his unreasonable and religious fundamentalist thoughts while the numerous ‘kan-tutta’ offspring of the jinnia and the ‘voice of reason’ must resist those ideas to save themselves and the world.

It is a surprise to read a pleasant and easy-to-get-into story about our fast-approaching environmental and economic disasters while we are suffering the violence unleashed by the warring corporate rulers and militant religious fundamentalists. In an interesting, and often funny way, the reader gets to connect the dots in time, history, ideology, argument, cause, effect. This novel is not just an interesting read but it also makes a perfect artistic tool to fight the threats we face. After The Satanic Verses, this is another literary intervention by Salman Rushdie where he has created something that can be used, in different ways of course, to strengthen secular and equality-seeking trends in the world.

The complexity of the themes of modern life becomes simple when told in the style of a fairy tale. Enjoyable, like all fairy tales, the text is ready to mutate into film, video drama, graphic novel, children’s illustrated book, teen comic book, stage drama, video game, and perhaps, a paperback edition.

I enjoyed Ursula K Le Guin’s review of it (a rare case of one fav doing another), her winks, and the chuckle where she expects that a male author should (could or would?) have explored the delights of motherhood regarding the human-jinnia who had delivered 7, 11 or even 19 children at a time. Yes, i agree, we have been robbed of many hilarious possibilities, but it’s like asking a woman author to expansively gloat in the frolics of mortal men. On second thoughts, may be Le Guin has a point, perhaps only men can speculate motherhood long enough to write something hilarious about it.

Her comment on the jinnia being a ‘man in drag’ provoked some thoughts. Going after one’s descendants or being committed to them can’t be a solely male passion or prerogative; a matriarch would do it perhaps for reasons different than those of the patriarch. Also, from the time the Dunia character appears at the Great Philosopher’s door, to when she re-appears in his grave after a few hundred years, she just keeps doing what she thinks would please him; even, pathetic as it may sound, while she had been missing her offspring she only begins to get them together when the dead philosopher asks her to; she takes her own ‘leading’ role seriously after her father dies and the gardener bails, and then her almost unconditional beyond life-long love for the philosopher guy!! She seems like a weird woman pretending to be a jinnie.

And yes, it is indeed a delightful read, more so because now we have a new fairy tale on the world literary scene. I like that the people who are fighting for rational/equitable solutions in this story, trace their lineage from their mother; and also, that they are not just mix-race but mix-species.

If this present-day fairy tale was in the public domain, i would translate it in Punjabi and Urdu, and make it available in South Asia at different levels of society to inspire artistic interventions.

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook editions.

Fauzia Rafique

‘Why Pakistan’s writers must attend the Jaipur literature festival’ by Kamila Shamsie and Salil Tripathi

The Guardian
Thursday 24 January 2013

Once again, religious fundamentalists in India are threatening to disrupt the Jaipur literature festival. The festival has grown over the years to be among the world’s largest such gatherings, bringing together writers from all continents, and, more important, showcasing South Asian writing talent, including the rich and diverse universe of regional languages. The festival has not been without controversies. Last year, Salman Rushdie withdrew after he received credible death threats from a Muslim group.

Five writers protested Rushdie’s absence by reading out excerpts fromThe Satanic Verses. Politicians filed lawsuits against the organisers and four of the authors – Jeet Thayil (whose novel, Narcopolis, was shortlisted last year for the Man Booker prize), Ruchir Joshi, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar – and investigations are ongoing. On the last day of the festival, Muslim fundamentalists refused to let the organisers even telecast a conversation with Rushdie. On 21 January, a few self-described Muslim scholars asked the festival to disinvite the four this year. Of the four, Thayil is the only featured speaker. The organisers have held firm – he should attend.

In parallel, and in a pattern that’s now increasingly, and dismayingly, predictable, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which is India’s main opposition party, has warned Pakistani writers not to participate in this year’s festival. Among those expected are Mohammed HanifNadeem Aslam (see the interview on page 12), Jamil AhmadFehmida Riaz and Musharraf Farooqi. To their credit, the organisers have also refused to buckle under this threat. The BJP’s demand is technically unrelated to the Muslim call, but it is in line with the fundamentalist Hindu aim, to stop all cultural and sporting contacts with Pakistan, because tensions along the “line of control” – the de facto border that separates Kashmir into parts controlled by India and Pakistan – have escalated. In a series of confusing events, both sides have accused the other of violating long-standing agreements by undertaking construction, firing, and beheading soldiers along the border.

Hindu activists succeeded in stopping two talented Pakistani theatre groups from staging plays of the late Saadat Hasan Manto, a Pakistani writer who grew up in pre-partition India and is regarded as one of the most poignant chroniclers of the partition of 1947. Activists also succeeded in getting Indian Hockey League teams to drop Pakistani players they had acquired in the region’s first professionally run hockey league. Now it is the turn of the Pakistani writers to bear the brunt of Hindu wrath.

This is deeply troublesome, given the vitiated state of relations between the neighbours who have fought four wars since independence. The party-wreckers seek to weaken the festival because it has become one of the few intellectual spaces in India where it is possible for Indian and Pakistani writers to interact meaningfully with one another and their readers. Much to the chagrin of the fundamentalists, Pakistani writers are popular in India, and attract a fond following.

Hindu apologists claim they are only reacting to Muslim intransigence, but that is preposterous. Intolerance cuts across all religions (as we have argued in our respective books, Offence: The Muslim Case and Offence: The Hindu Case (Seagull), outlining fundamentalist attacks on freedom of expression). What’s peculiar in the Indian instance is the notion of competitive intolerance, due to which each side tries to outdo the other in demanding restrictions, narrowing the discourse. That’s terrible for India, for Pakistan and for literature.

Over the years, the Jaipur festival has earned the reputation of being an important destination on the global literary map. Any steps politicians and politically inclined groups take to stamp their authority on it diminishes the world. India and Pakistan may have legitimate grievances with each another, but a literary festival, like a stage or a hockey field, is no place to settle them – on the contrary, those spaces exist so that both countries can expand their views of each other beyond the rhetoric of politicians and generals.

Moreover, both Hindu and Muslim groups who want to keep authors away from Jaipur are hurting India’s long tradition of intellectual freedom. It is for the organisers to remain firm in their resolve and stay on the path and stare back at their philistine critics. And it is for the Indian government to ensure that the festival takes place without any restrictions.

Pakistan-born Kamila Shamsie and India-born Salil Tripathi are co-chairs of English PEN’s Writers at Risk committee.

Movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ – Beautiful Rendition of the Novel

On October 3rd, Vancouver offered to the movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ the largest attendance recorded for a screening at Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Produced by David Hamilton, directed by Deepa Mehta and written by Salman Rushdie, the film is a(n explosive) treat to watch.

The world of Midnight’s Children, a cellulide incarnation of Salman Rushdie’s classic novel on the partition of India, comes alive from the start and continues to become more vivid, more exciting, more bizarre – as it does. From hillarious to outrageous, it’s a riot to witness a woman in bits and parts through the holed sheet, and then see her emerge as a complete, and somehow baffling young woman; the three sisters, two of whom progress to become wives while the third (‘who marries a book?’) stays sitting on the sofa; the celebrated birth of Salim Sinai, and nurse Mary’s inspirational pro-activism in switching the newborns; the un-sighted black mango with all it’s ramifications on the young mind of Salim; the recurrence of the spittoon; the white-locked lady of all political powers, generals and plans, the killing fields, the homeless, Parvati’s magic, Picture Singh’s supportive appearances; and most of all, an optimistic end.

In a world where anything is possible, and at a time when people must experience the violence of doctored political change, the continuity of the narrator’s voice enables the viewer to go with it till the end.

Deepa Mehta has created this film with amazing skill, depth and vision. The chaotic culture of pre-Partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the characters, the atmosphere, the beauty- it is a forceful, moving and fascinating experience in cinema.

Actors performed their characters well even when there was not enough time for most. Amazing talent, beauty and hard work shines through the whole team led by Satya Bhabha (Saleem Sinai), Shahana Goswami (Amina), Seema Biswas (Mary), Shriya Saran (Parvati), Rahul Bose (General Zulfikar) and Ronit Roy (Ahmed Sinai). An unexpected disappointment: Shabana Azmi (Naseem).

The movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ remains in the mind as an unforgettable visual experience, and as a worthy preamble to a larger film. Because of the time constraint that may have caused the collage of key events toward the end, the later half, unlike the first, could not establish all of it’s changing worlds for it’s characters to live in. It does work but feels like a tease to a viewer who has read the novel, and confusion to the one who hasn’t. It needs perhaps a 3-hour film or a mini tv series.

In Theatres November 2, 2012

To be released in India December 2012

Uddari Weblog
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‘Iran resurrects Salman Rushdie threat’ by Robert Tait

Uddari condemns Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, an Iranian Imam, who has chosen, yet again, to target Author Salman Rushdie by reviving Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa. By doing this he has openly instigated violence against an individual; tried to delude Iranians with religious hysteria instead of addressing their real-life issues; perpetuated fear in artists; and, has continued with the vulgarity of using money as incentive to kill human beings.

The Telegraph, UK

Iran has seized on widespread Muslim outrage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad to revive the death threat against Salman Rushdie, raising the reward for killing him by US$500,000 (£320,000).

Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, head of a powerful state foundation providing relief to the poor, said the film would never have been made if the order to execute Rushdie, issued by the late Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had been carried out.

Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa sentencing the author to death in 1989 after declaring his novel, The Satanic Verses, “blasphemous”, but Iranian officials later indicated it would not be implemented.
“It [the film] won’t be the last insulting act as long as Imam Khomeini’s historic order on executing the blasphemous Salman Rushdie is not carried out,” he said in a statement.

“If the imam’s order was carried out, the further insults in the form of caricatures, articles and films would not have taken place. The impertinence of the grudge-filled enemies of Islam, which is occurring under the flag of the Great Satan, America and the racist Zionists, can only be blocked by the absolute administration of this Islamic order.”

Ayatollah Saeni’s offer appeared to be an officially-sanctioned attempt by Iran to harness anger across the Muslim world over the film, which was produced by anti-Muslim Christians based in the United States. The film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a derogatory manner, has provoked riots and violent attacks on western interests in several Muslim countries, including Libya, where Americans, including the ambassador, were killed.

Although Ayatollah Sanei has offered financial rewards for carrying out the edict in the past, he said Muslim anger over the recent film meant the time was now ripe.
“The aim [of the fatwa] has been to uproot the anti-Islamic conspiracy and now the necessity for taking this action is even more obvious than any other time,” he said. “I’m adding another $500,000 to the reward and anyone who carries out this order will immediately receive the whole amount.” The total bounty is now $3.3m (£2.1 m).

The increased bounty was issued on the eve of the publication of a memoir by Rushdie about his years spent in hiding and living under armed guard from would-be executioners intent on carrying out Khomeini’s sentence.

It also re-opens an affair that appeared to have been laid to rest after Iranian officials gave assurances that the fatwa would not be put into effect.

In 1998, Iran’s reformist then president, Mohammad Khatami, declared the Rushdie affair “completely finished” during an appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York. The Iranian foreign minister at the time, Kemal Kharrazi, also announced that Iran would not threaten the author’s life or encourage others to kill him.

The statements led to a restoration of diplomatic ties between London and Tehran, which Britain had cut in protest. It also prompted Rushdie to come out of hiding.

However, the fatwa – passed four months before Khomeini’s death – was never annulled and hardliners have frequently revived the issue as a political weapon in their internal struggle with more moderate elements in Iran’s theocratic regime.

It is unlikely that Ayatollah Sanei, personal representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the 15th Khordad Foundation, was acting without higher approval. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei himself reaffirmed the fatwa while addressing pilgrims preparing to visit Mecca.

In a speech last Friday, he decried the film as the work of US imperialism and “Zionism” and linked it to other perceived western attacks on Islam, including The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

“Had they not backed the previous links in this evil chain, namely Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and the US pastors who burned the Holy Koran and had they not made orders for [production of] tens of anti-Islam movies to companies affiliated to the Zionist capitalists, things would not have lead to this great and unforgivable sin today,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports and take any threat to the life of a British National very seriously. Our diplomatic position has always been clear that threats to Mr Rushdie are completely unacceptable.”

‘Midnight’s Children’ World Premiere: Toronto Sept 9 & 10 – Vancouver Sept 27

The movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ by Deepa Mehta is set to enjoy a befitting stage this month by being featured at both Toronto film festival (September 9 – 10) and Vancouver film festival (September 27).

‘Midnight’s Children’ will hold its ‘World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, and will be the opening film at Vancouver International Film Festival’.

Toronto festival

Vancouver festival

In theatres November 2

The Author’s view
‘It has been an extraordinary experience to watch my novel brought to life by so many talents working in harmony. Dilip Mehta’s production design, with its meticulous eye for period detail, re-created the world of MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN, much of it drawn from my own childhood memories, so vividly and accurately that there were moments when I gasped – see, there was my father’s old Rolleiflex! And look, there were my grandmother’s ferocious geese! Giles Nuttgens’s magnificent camera photographed a world that was both epic and intimate, which was afterwards given rhythm and shape by Colin Monie’s editing; Nitin Sawhney’s score lifted scene after scene to new levels, adding layers of emotion; and above all Deepa Mehta’s kindly, ferocious direction orchestrated it all and made a film that’s true to the spirit of the original novel, but that also, I think, possesses its own authority, and establishes itself as a work of art in its own right.’

Salman Rushdie

Excerpt from:

Related Content at Uddari

Top 2012 Attraction: A Deepa Mehta Film

Release date
November 2/12
Stills, Videos, Press

Midnight’s Children A Deepa Mehta film is our top choice for 2012. To be released this September, the film boasts Salman Rushdie’s own screenplay, Deepa Mehta’s direction, and work by many great actors including Shabana Azmi. Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is one of the most profound, enchanting and creative work of fiction on the 1947 Partition. A lot has been created on this time period. My favorites: short fiction by Saadat Hasan Manto, some paintings by Gujral, a poem by Amrita Preetam, and Midnight’s Children.

Deepa Mehta is a Punjabi Canadian filmmaker who has directed over 16 films and has won many awards. She made her first short film in 1976, and has since given us Sam And Me (1991), Camilla (1994), trilogy Fire (1996) Earth (1998) and Water (2001), Bollywood/Hollywood (2002), and Heaven on earth (2008). Her brilliance comes out in her trilogy where tabooed themes are expressed, at times, in breathtaking moments of societal/emotional chaos to surface conclusions and understandings. Her frames strike as paintings of intense beauty using bold colours, shapes and sound.

Hamilton Mehta Productions
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Rushdie is a master storyteller who has since 1975 written 9 novels, 2 children’s books and 3 collections of short fiction. Top favourites: Midnight’s Children (1981), Shame (1983), Satanic Verses (1988), and The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995). He is soon coming out with his memoir ‘Joseph Anton’ about the long years of life-threatening backlash from Muslim fundamentalists after the 1989 Fatwa on Satanic Verses.

Salman Rushdie
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The film Midnight’s Children is produced by David Hamilton and Deepa Mehta. Shooting happened in Sri Lanka. Crew and the cast is huge. Below, find at least some faces and names.

Midnight’s Children movie

Director, Author, Producer, Actor

Oops! This isn’t the ‘Amazing crew’.
It’s the actual ‘midnight’s children’ with Deepa Mehta and Zorawar Shukla!

And here’s almost everyone who made this film possible:

Some Actors

Saleem Sinai Satya Bhabha


Shiva Siddharth

Ahmed Sinai Ronit Roy


Amina Shahana Goswami




Naseem Shabana Azmi



Aadam Aziz Rajat Kapoor



Mary Seema Biswas



Parvati Shriya Saran



Jamila Singer Soha Ali Khan



And now, the creeps… General Zulfiqar Rahul Bose with Emerald Anita Majumdar

More here



Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie on India

In the past couple of days we got word about different facets of Indian society from two of the most distinguished South Asian authors, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy.

Salman Rushdie spoke about freedom of expression in India; and about the ‘immeasureableness’ of the damage caused by his banned-in-India-and-Pakistan novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ when the actual damage to Islam is being caused by Muslim terrorists and Muslim militant fundamentalists in Pakistan; and, more. Arundhati Roy’s article ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’ shows us the painful impacts of the inequalities generated by our current policies and systems. Together, these two items give us an almost wholesome image of the state of our rights and freedoms in India, South Asia, and the World.

Presented by two major media groups, here’s a video made in India, and an article published in Pakistan. Plus the diverse perspectives and expressions of two amazing novelists of our time!

Salman Rushdie
India Today Conclave 2012
New Delhi, March 17

Arundhati Roy 2012
Karachi, March 18

‘”It’s Part of their Culture” – Reading Nick Cohen in the light of the Jaipur affair’ by Richard Dawkins

I have just returned from the Jaipur Literary Festival, infamous for the recent reprise of the 1989 threats against Sir Salman Rushdie by Muslims the world over, lamentably applauded by leading churchmen, politicians, historians and otherwise liberal journalists. Coincidentally, I am reading You Can’t Read this Book, Nick Cohen’s brilliant broadside against ‘censorship in an age of freedom’.

Censorship and freedom of speech, then, are much in my mind this week. Cohen’s book, I should say, includes other aspects of censorship and intimidation which I shall not discuss here, including the tacit censorship imposed by the charter for libel tourism which is the current Law of England, and the intimidation of bank employees by dictatorial bosses like the odious “Fred the Shred” (today deprived of his knighthood, and if we must have scapegoats it couldn’t have happened to a nastier man).

At the Jaipur festival, in defiance of intimidation from the civil government, three courageous Indian writers began their literary presentations by publicly reading from The Satanic Verses. I chose to support Rushdie in a different way, by reading from my own ‘Words for Rushdie’, published in New Statesman at the time of the original fatwa – for that magazine was an honourable exception to the widespread fashion to blame the victim rather than the Muslim perpetrators of the outrage.

The organizers of the festival were placed in an impossibly difficult position. Let down as they were by the spineless Rajasthan government, who had eyes only for the Muslim vote in the current elections, they did their best. They were personally threatened by a baying mob of bearded youths who invaded the festival compound promising murder and mayhem if Rushdie was allowed so much as a video link (as Germaine Greer said at the time of the Danish cartoons row, “What these people really love and do best is pandemonium”).

In my speech I compared the Muslim fatwa-mongers to the Papal Nuncio who, in 1580, encouraged Englishmen to murder Queen Elizabeth because she was “the cause of so much injury to the Catholic faith . . .” I went on to say:

‘Our whole society is soft on religion. The assumption is remarkably widespread that religious sensitivities are somehow especially deserving of consideration – a consideration not accorded to ordinary prejudice. . . I admit to being offended by Father Christmas, ‘Baby Jesus’, and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, but if I tried to act on these prejudices I’d quite rightly be held accountable. I’d be challenged to justify myself. But let somebody’s *religion* be offended and it’s another matter entirely. Not only do the affronted themselves kick up an almighty fuss; they are abetted and encouraged by influential figures from other religions and the liberal establishment. Far from being challenged to justify their beliefs like anybody else, the religious are granted sanctuary in a sort of intellectual no go area.’
Here are two possible reasons one might offer for kowtowing to a violent threat such as was visited on the Jaipur Literary Festival last week.

I shall give in to your demands to suppress freedom of speech, purely because I fear your threats. But don’t for one nanosecond confuse fear with respect. I do not respect you, I despise you and everything you stand for – especially given that your faith is apparently so weak in argument that it requires violent threats to shore it up.

It seems to me that there is nothing reprehensible in such a response. It is not cowardly, simply prudent, and Nick Cohen praises Grayson Perry for using a milder version of it. But the same cannot be said of the following:

I shall give in to you because I know that freedom of speech is not part of your culture. Who am I to impose Western, colonialist, paternalistic ideas like freedom of speech on your very different and equally valuable culture? Of course your ‘hurt’ and ‘offence’ should take precedence over our purely Western preoccupation with freedom of speech, and of course we’ll cancel the video link.
Nobody would express this patronising thought in quite such brazenly explicit terms, but I have concluded that it is the subtext of a great deal of the woolly, liberal accommodationism that we saw at the time of the fatwa and the Bradford burning of the books, as well as during the Danish cartoon affair. The closest approach to it that I know was the German judge who, in 2007, denied the divorce application of a Moroccan-born woman on the grounds that the Koran permits husbands to beat their wives.

Nick Cohen quotes Robert Hughes on the hypocritical double standard of liberal academics:

‘On American campuses, they held that if a man so much as looked around with a lustful eye, or called a young female a ‘girl’ instead of a ‘woman’, he was guilty of gross sexual impropriety. Yet abroad it was “more or less OK for a cabal of regressive theocratic bigots to insist on the chador, to cut off thieves’ hands and put out the eyes of offenders on TV, and to murder novelists as state policy. Oppression is what we do in the West. What they do in the Middle East is ‘their culture’. Leftists could not make a stand, because to their minds defending Rushdie would at some level mean giving aid and comfort to racists and strengthening the hand of the one enemy they could admit to having: the imperialist warmongers in Washington, DC.’

Cohen berates a similar hypocrisy in the treatment of the Somali-born hero Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Netherlands, when her life was hideously threatened in a letter skewered to the murdered body of Theo van Gogh by the butcher’s knife with which his throat had been cut. The two of them had collaborated on making a remarkably gentle and understated ten-minute film about three quietly suffering Muslim women. That was the ‘offence’, the ‘hurt’ to Islamic sensitivities for which van Gogh was slaughtered and Ayaan threatened. Cohen’s point is that the liberal intellectuals who should have been her natural allies deserted her just when she needed them most. She was forced to flee the Netherlands, where she was a Member of Parliament, and took refuge in the USA, offered sanctuary by an American political institution that was far from her natural political home.

Ayaan was shabbily treated even by her neighbours, who feared that they might be collateral damage if her apartment was attacked. Worse, a Dutch court ruled that the placing of Ayaan in a new place of safety was “a breach of her new neighbours’ human rights.” And Nick Cohen quotes a chilling example of the same kind of thing in England. Peter Mayer was Salman Rushdie’s courageous publisher at Penguin Books, and he received many death threats, including one scrawled in blood. An anonymous telephone call told Mayer that “not only would they kill me but they would take my daughter and smash her head against a concrete wall.” Cohen takes up the story:

‘Far from rallying to defend an innocent girl and her innocent father, the parents of her classmates demanded that the school expel her. What would happen, they asked, if the Iranian assassins went to the school and got the wrong girl? And Mayer thought, “You think my daughter is the right girl?” The same cowardice greeted him when he applied for a co-op apartment in New York. “There were objections that the Iranians could send a hit squad and target the wrong apartment. As if I had done something wrong.”

‘Mayer spoke truer than he knew. After Rushdie, the fear of a knife in the ribs or a bomb at the office meant that liberals who stuck by liberalism were in the wrong. They knew the consequences now. If someone killed them, they were guilty of provoking their own murder. In the eyes of most politicians and most of the journalists, broadcasters, academics and intellectuals whose livelihoods depended on the freedom to debate and criticise, the targets of religious violence had no one to blame but themselves.’
Elsewhere in his book, Cohen discusses bien-pensant responses to the so-called ‘new atheists’ in similar terms.

‘The new atheists thought that the best argument against Islamist terror, or Christian fundamentalism, or Hindu or Jewish nationalism, was to say bluntly that there is no God, and we should grow up. Fear of religious violence also drove the backlash against atheism from those who felt that appeasement of psychopathic believers was the safest policy; that if we were nice to them, perhaps they would calm down. Prim mainstream commentators decried the insensitivity and downright rudeness with which the new atheists treated the religious. The complaints boiled down to a simple and piteous cry: “Why can’t you stop upsetting them?”
You cannot if, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali you are confronting clerical oppression’

Cohen is rightly sympathetic to the plight of moderate Muslims caught between their own murderous co-religionists on the one hand, and the racist bigots of the white right. He takes ironic comfort from the fact that only one third of young British Muslims between sixteen and twenty-four support the execution of apostates. Only!

When I publicly tackled Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Britain’s leading ‘moderate’ Muslim, on this very question, he repeatedly evaded it before finally conceding that death is indeed the prescribed punishment for apostasy but pleaded that “it is very seldom enforced.” So that’s all right then. Roll on the (‘inevitable’ according to the Archbishop of Canterbury) Sharia Law. Sir Iqbal who, by the way, was knighted for services to ‘community relations’, said of Salman Rushdie, at the time of the fatwa, “Death is perhaps too easy for him.”

Oh but of course, we mustn’t be shocked, it’s their culture and we must respect it.

Updated: Wednesday, 01 February 2012 at 8:19 PM – An RDFRS Original