ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE FATWA AGAINST SALMAN RUSHDIE
"Who dares not speak his free thoughts is a slave."
quoted in Noyes, Views of Religion
comments="Your site concerning (if that's the right word) the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is truly pathetic. Its gratuitous portrayal of "satanic Islam" is one of the most irresponsible, intellecutally lame things I've seen on the web.
Do you even have a logica that defends it? Besides, of course, uttlerly igonrant stereotypes? If so, I'd love to hear what they are.
Findout="Just surfed on in!"
Dear K. Gould,
Sorry you didn't like my webpage. But I would that you leave my webpages either applauding or seething, but in either case engaged in the debate; I have always preferred rage to apathy or indifference in my readers. But I digress.
Nowhere would I dare to say that Islam is an unworthy or ignoble religion - and I take comfort in the many many mainstream individual Muslims and Muslim institutions that refused to condone the fatwa urging Rushdie's premature and unnatural death. Nevertheless, the idea that an established government could place a bounty on a foreign national for writing a work of fiction moves me to such anger that I would excoriate that government and its leader in the most vigorous language I can imaginably conjure. I can hardly think of a more heinous act against human intelligence than sentencing a man to death for writing a book. It hearkens back to some pre-civilized age. Back to the medieval Catholic inquisitors. Back to Nazi book burnings. Back to the most primitive despotism of pre-industrial times.
And before you drag out the same tired and trite comments about cultural and moral relativism and how I, an American, have no right to judge the actions of someone from Iran, remember that other prominent Islamic writers including Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz -- himself the victim of a murderous assault by clerical fanatics -- have issued a volume titled "For Rushdie," in which they state that the affair of "The Satanic Verses" is the defining issue separating them from the dogmatists, as noted by Christopher Hitchens. Many of the most prominent authors in Iran, Palestine, Lebanon and Algeria also signed their names in opposition to the Islamic fundamentalist death warrant, risking their lives to do so.
This is not about primarily about culture or religion. This is about freedom of expression and the sanctity and dignity of the individual mind. No less an American than Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed, "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." In this, Emerson would no doubt stand solidly with Mahfouz against the fatwa of fundamentalist Iran and its grim-faced Ayatollah Khomeini. And I stand with them - on principle.
I regret you find my comments "irresponsible" or "intellectually lame." Yet they stand as they are. Such is my right to freely express my own opinion, a right I enjoy legally under the American Constitution and naturally as a free human being on the earth.
"Intellectual freedom is essential to human society... Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships."
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov
Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom
secretly circulated in Moscow, 1968