A Muslim peer compared Salman Rushdie to the September 11 hijackers today as the row over the author’s knighthood escalated.
At Regents Park Mosque in London, protestors held up
placards saying “May God curse the Queen” and one speaker told followers Tony Blair
should be sent back from the Middle East “in a bag”.
And in Iran, a senior cleric told worshippers at Friday prayers that the fatwa against Mr Rushdie was still valid.
Interviewed in Le Figaro newspaper in France, the Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham added fuel to the row when he hit out at Mr Rushdie.
“This honour is given in recognition of services rendered to Great Britain,” he said. “Salman Rushdie lives in New York. He is controversial man who has insulted Muslim
people, Christians and the British. He does not deserve the honour.
Gee, where are the Christian demonstrators calling for people’s heads and burning effigies?
“Two weeks ago Tony Blair spoke about constructing bridges with Muslims. What hypocrisy.
“What would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honoured the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?”
His words follow that of the Pakistani religious affairs minister Ijaz ul-Haq who said the move to honour Mr Rushdie justified suicide bombings.
The protest at Regents Park was organised by Anjem Choudary, a former leader of al-Muhajiroun who also organised the protests against the Danish cartoons of the Prophet
Mohammed which led to several convictions.
At the rally, two dozen protestors burned a paper St George’s flag and called for the Queen to “go to hell.”
One speaker referred to Tony Blair’s possible role as a Middle East envoy, adding: “I hope Tony Blair comes back in a bag. What bag is up to you.”
Protestors attacked photographers and one shouted: “Salman Rushdie is a devil. He should be attacked. We as Muslims should never forget how he insulted the
“We have a responsibility to hold the Queen accountable for standing with the people who insult Islam.”
In a letter to more than 500 mosques, the Muslim Council of Britain accused
Tony Blair personally of rewarding an author who had “vilified” Islam.
“Muslims can only see this action as an attempt to create deep offence to Muslims and divert their attention from contributing to community cohesion in these challenging times,” said secretary-general Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari.
But he called for peaceful protest and added: “We should not allow the
situation to be inflamed in any way or exploited by unsavoury groups.”
About 2,000 people joined rallies in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and
Quetta. In Karachi the crowd chanted “Death to Rushdie” and carried banners including one
reading, “Awarding Rushdie is starting a fight with Islam.”