By John O'Mahony
The Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri has (July 10th) threatened Prime Minister Gordon Brown with mass murder in Britain, in retaliation for the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie. The knighthood, al-Zawahri said, was an "insult" to Muslims. This once more expresses, and in its most brutish and blood-thirsty form, the paradoid intolerance that governs political Islam.
We analysed the "moderate" version of this mindset, in this comment on the outcry that immediately greeted the award of the knighthood.
"I'm inclined to congratulate those, whoever they are, who decided to give [the knighthood] to him, despite the predictable outcry from the bigots who would rather see him dead than "honoured"."
Do you think they knighted Rushdie to strike a blow for secularism against religious bigotry? That the scurrying bureaucratic staff of the Queen - "the defender of the faith" - are making their own protest against the forwards march of organised religion?
Of course not. You may recall that Iqbal "homosexuality is a disease" Sacranie (ex-leader of the MCB) is also a "Sir". You don't have to line up behind the institution of knighthood to be clear about what's going on here. In fact, doing so somewhat muddies the waters.
...it quite obvious that Rushdie is being honoured for being a successful and acclaimed writer - as with Sir Arnold Wesker, Sir Arthur C Clarke, Sir Michael Holroyd and others.
Religion doesn't really enter into the decision to grant him a knighthood. However, as Sean says, this insane outcry was predictable, and in this respect we should certainly support those who were prepared to risk it.
Honours of this sort don't I think come from the Palace but from the PM's office and while Blair (with his love of faith schools including Islamic ones) is hardly anti-religious, the decision to defy the clamour of religious bigots IS clearly a stand in favour of secularism. I think Sean gets it exactly right.
Incidentally, it's a long time since I read The Satanic Verses, but I'm not convinced it does attack Mohammed. As I recall it suggests that certain verses were excluded from the Koran because they were considered unsuitably feministic. It's probably less blasphemous than The Da Vinci Code or The Last Temptation of Christ.
...the idea that freedom of speech and democracy are "western" values is not the property of the AWL, or even of "the West". You will find that the Islamists share this view, and in fact appear to have come up with it first. You should read their actual writings before making cosy assumptions about what they represent.
Liberal democracy and the AWL's kind of socialism have in common that at some level they hold that the will of the people is the highest law. Islamism holds that the word of God (as expressed in the Koran) is the highest law. (And since God is not available to submit to, people are required to submit to the Islamists).
To the extent that Marxism is a western system of thought, Marxists certainly do unashamedly privilege "western" ideas, but then the test of the validity of an idea is hardly its geographical provenance.
I have no idea who this "frantz" is, but if s/he was ever a marxist or a socialist s/he clearly ain't any more. But then fuzzy multiculturalism and/or sloganising anti-'westernism' is so much more sexy these days...