Our wonderful ally Pakistan
Image from the CBC.
The religious affairs minister of Pakistan was not happy that Salman Rushdie is to be knighted:
Today, Pakistan's religious affairs minister suggested that the knighthood was so grave an offence that any Muslim anywhere in the world would be justified in taking violent action.
"If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified," Mr ul-Haq told the National Assembly.
The minister, the son of Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who died in a plane crash in 1988, later retracted his statement in parliament, then told the AFP news agency that he meant to say that knighting Rushdie would foster extremism.
(HT: Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy) The minister goes on to say Pakistan should cut off diplomatic relations with the UK. Remember folks: Pakistan is allegedly our ally in the struggle against militarized Islamists. Of course, Iran's not happy about it either.In this I'm totally on the side of those giving Rushdie the honor. Blasphemy is not a crime in civilized countries or among civilized people. (Yes, I'm making a dreaded "value judgment" about another culture.) The ire Rushdie has earned in the Islamic world is truly frightening and baffling to me. If some guy wants to make fun of your religion in his book or on his blog in some editorial cartoon, the proper reaction is to make fun of them back, or start a boycott, or publish a defense, or do some public service work to show that your religion is a force for good. The hysteria that ensues whenever some high-profile "blasphemy" incident gets the attention of certain folks in the Islamic world seems to be diagnostic of something very wrong.
(And from what I know, Rushdie wasn't even that blasphemous, but rather used the conventions of the literary genre "magical realism" when depicting The Prophet. But I haven't read Satanic Verses. Tried to, but it didn't catch fire with me. Midnight's Children drew me in more.)
It's stuff like this that makes me glad I'm an American, as screwed up as our government is.
If Mick Jagger can be knighted, surely Rushdie can be. I would think that those with pious, puritanical sensibilities would find the former a good deal more offensive than the latter. Egad.