On Pakistan’s ability to get its priorities in order

20 06 2007

This is Waziristan, a northern province of Pakistan. It was from here that the Taliban swept into Afghanistan, establishing in the late 90s one of the most savage and despotic faith-based regimes ever known. To this day it remains a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold.

This is Salman Rushdie, an Anglo-Indian novelist who in 1989 was sentenced to death in absentia by the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini, in response to the publication of The Satanic Verses which contained references to Mohammed which many Muslims deemed to be blasphemous. As a result, Rushdie went into hiding for nine years–while several others associated with the novel’s publication were either murdered, assaulted or threatened–and to this day Iran’s religious authorities refuse to lift the fatwa that was placed on him.

Now, if you were a Muslim and a member of the Pakistani government, which of the two would you consider a bigger enemy of Islam and more worthy of your condemnation: (a) a bunch of bloodthirsty religious fanatics who like to slaughter innocent people in the name of their faith, or (b) a British novelist who once wrote a book containing an irreverent depiction of Mohammed? Which of the two does more damage to the image of Islam?

Yeah. Me too.

But the Pakistani government doesn’t see it that way, given its outrage over Britain’s decision to award Rushdie a knighthood. Condemning the British government for its “insensitivity,” Pakistan is demanding that the knighthood be revoked. According to the Foreign Ministry, “this decision can unnecessarily incite religious feelings [. . .] Rushdie has been a controversial figure who is known less for his contribution to literature and more for hurting the feelings of Muslims.” (Cue the world’s smallest violin.) The Minister for Religious Affairs warns that “such an award can provoke suicide attacks.” Got that? If more innocent people are murdered because certain faith-heads have so completely lost the will to behave rationally, blame Rushdie.

Seriously, guys: if you don’t like Rushdie, don’t read his books. And don’t take his knighthood personally–the notion that it’s intended to be an insult to Muslims is preposterous. In the meantime, you have a very big backyard to clean up, and perhaps you should focus your energies on that.

More at Ninglun’s.




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