The award of Knighthood to Salmaan Rushdie reignited the old rifts between nearly two billion strong global Muslim community and the ‘defenders of free speech’. When I wrote my last entry on the matter, I hoped that I will never again need to write about this wicked man. But the latest diplomatic ‘war of words’ between Pakistan and Britain and the subsequent coverage of the matter forced me to invest my time to shed light for once again on this matter.
The row begins with an alleged comment of Ijazul Haque, Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry. What he said, as clarified by him on more than one occasion afterwards goes much way to clearly show the depth of anger and offence this decision to knight Rushdie will cause around the Muslim world. Unfortunately however, by the time it has been reported on the British media, the language pretty much became something like ‘the Pakistani Minister justifies suicide killing’. This spinning of a simple matter into a complex ‘war of words’ is utterly unacceptable and extremely unfortunate. We should not be surprised however for the British media and the certain quarters of the political arena to blow the whole issue into an entirely new dimension, distorting the main thrust of the debate. They only vindicate the minister and many others who believe that this was a calculated decision aimed at offending Muslims.
UK is among the most sophisticated of countries in the west, here every word matters. NO decision in this country taken at the state level without major thinking by various spin doctors, quangos and other bodies. The government wing responsible for awarding honours is no different. It would be inconceivable that the learned and wise people sitting in the decision making process who confirmed Mr. Rushdie’s honour were unaware of the potential for a backlash. Nor would they be in darkness about the past full with painful memories caused by inflammatory, irresponsible and blasphemous work of Rushdie. And it is for this reason that when some bunch of white collared people decide to confirm knighthood on Rushdie, it is only natural for the Millions of Muslims worldwide to take offence and rightly so. There is no room, and I repeat absolutely no room for those who wants to argue that this was merely a decision influenced by the literary contribution of Mr. Rushdie. Even if we are to accept that the decision was not one aimed at picking fight with Muslim communities, we would still have to conclude that the decision was an extremely irresponsible act and those made the decisions are incompetent and naïve. Either way, it is a bad decision which should have been redressed much long ago.
Going back to the row between Pakistan and UK and now Iran, it is indeed regrettable that British government, the Conservative Party and the British media decided to play spin with a matter of such importance. The role of the media, the conservative party and the other quarters involved in it only goes to show the lack of understanding towards Islam and the Muslims, to say the least. Of course, it would not be untrue, illogical to say that a large number of influential individuals within these mechanisms are deeply prejudicial about Islam and Muslims and always seek for opportunities to spoil the relationship developed over a long period of time, thanks to hard working individual who dedicated their life to bringing better understanding between Islam and the west.
Here in the UK and indeed the Muslims world over never wishes to pick a fight, nor do they have appetite for playing spin and politics with issues that run the danger of igniting violence and create hard feelings between citizens within and beyond states. We the Muslims merely expect to be treated with respect, curtsey and dignity; we deserve it. To disrespect values and person that Muslims hold dearer than their own lives in the manner that Salmaan Rushdie and others do is to disrespect and deny the right of Muslims and Islam to exists in its entirety. It is therefore our hope that common sense will prevail and decent, peace loving sensible people of this great nation, and indeed all over the world will rise to take the hate mongers and prejudicial ‘free speech defenders’ head on.