Note once again that we have never seen this kind of rage against Osama bin Laden or any of the others whom we are endlessly told have “hijacked” Islam.
By Ben Hoyle in the TimesOnline (thanks to all who sent this in):
Sir Salman Rushdie celebrates his 60th birthday today in familiar circumstances: he is once again the subject of death threats across the Islamic world.
Eighteen years after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill him, a government minister in Pakistan said yesterday that Rushdie’s recent knighthood justified suicide bombing.
Hardliners in Iran revived calls for his murder yesterday. Mehdi Kuchakzadeh, a Tehran MP, declared: “Rushdie died the moment the late Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] issued the fatwa.”
The Organisation to Commemorate Martyrs of the Muslim World, a fringe hardline group, offered a reward of $150,000 (Â£75,000) to any successful assassin.
Forouz Rajaefar, the group’s secretary general, said: “The British and the supporters of the anti-Islam Salman Rushdie could rest assured that the writer’s nightmare will not end until the moment of his death and we will bestow kisses on the hands of whomsoever is able to execute this apostate.”
Effigies of Rushdie and the Queen were burnt in Pakistan, where presidential elections at the end of the year have destablised an already volatile political climate. Hundreds of protesters in Multan, Karachi and Lahore set fire to British flags and chanted “Death to Britain, death to Rushdie” and Islamist leaders called for nationwide protests after Friday prayers.
Ijaz-ul-Haq, the Religious Affairs Minister, told the assembly in Islamabad that the award of the knighthood excused suicide bombing. “If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified,” he said.
He later retracted his statement, explaining that he had intended to say that knighting Rushdie will foster extremism. “If someone blows himself up, he will consider himself justified. How can we fight terrorism when those who commit blasphemy are rewarded by the West? We demand an apology by the British government. Their action has hurt the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims.”
Pakistan’s national assembly earlier unanimously passed a resolution condemning Rushdie’s knighthood, which it said would encourage “contempt” for the Prophet Muhammad.