Open Letter in Response to Salman Rushdie

It was definitely amusing to hear a
forgotten voice again – the voice of Salman Rushdie. His article has
made a moderate like me express pity – not outrage – at his very
simplified view of the world – made ever more simple on his reliance
on the biased Western media. I challenge Mr. Rushdie to show me a
SINGLE ‘good’ story about Islam in the principal channels of Western
media in the past one year. If that is not bias, what is? Are we to
assume that there is no good among Muslims? Has CNN run a documentary
of the unparalleled philanthropic movement of the great Edhi? Has the
BBC reported that Rwandans are so appreciative of the role of Muslims
and mosques during the genocide that the most churches were a part
of? Do we ever see the outrage being committed against the Palestinians
— week-long curfews, destruction of records — one of the most
barbaric acts of dehumanization carried out in the past one hundred
years. Yet Mr. Rushdie has the audacity to glean a few darling
headlines and make his pronouncements. Mr. Rushdie, the Islamic world
has woken up — and you cannot make itgo back to sleep again. It is a
war against tyranny and falsehood — and you can consult your history
books to see who will be victorious.

Now let us talk about your points. Hmm .. .
. Horseman without a Horse . . . theories long ago
discredited and being shown as fact because of anti-Semitism? Can you
please remind me of the plot of The Satanic Verses . . .. obscure theories
long ago discredited woven into a pseudo-fantasy to poke fun at a
religion and its founder? In fact, on second thoughts, this TV
series is the closest comparison to your famous book, and yes, I did
read it. This is why your short article is so amusing.

In Kaduna, Nigeria, Muslims attacked the
office of the mainstream newspaper that printed language highly
objectionable. How objectionable? Consider the following statement
in a movie review in The Daily Telegraph — “The lead actor
of the movie is so good-looking that the Virgin Mary would have gladly
lost her virginity to him” Shocked? This is how revolted
true Muslims felt, a feeling that is obviously alien to you. Most of
the subsequent carnage was conducted by Christian youth gangs, a fact
that Western media and their blind followers conveniently overlooked.
It is one thing to be an average reader and not be diligent enough to
ferret out the truth from the biased media; it is another thing to
call oneself a sensitive author pained by the awful state of Muslim
society and not carry out the requisite.

Talking about last week, it was indeed a
tragic week in the history of the world. The US continued to hold
prisoners extra-judicially in Guantanamo Bay. Extra-judicial killings
were carried out by the US through the CIA in Yemen and Afghanistan.
The US and UK bombed Iraq under the pretext of no-fly zones which are
not sanctioned by the UN, killing 4 and injuring a few others. Israel
continued to kill Palestinian children (4 this week) and an 80-yr old
man in a house demolished by Israeli forces that purportedly belonged
to a family of an alleged bomber. Lest we forget, destruction of
civilian housing, detention of people without charges is uncivilized.
Yesterday, the US dropped bombs from a B-52 on Afghan warlords
fighting one another. The B-52 is an indiscriminate bomber. While we
are on it, 9 Chechens were killed in Grozny, and the Russian
Government finally succeeded in banning the Internet site –
– for its support of Chechen rebellion. So much for free speech. And
a week in which leading American evangelists, with ties to the Bush
Administration, bad-mouthed Islam with no cause. So much for the US

Mr. Rushdie, your comfortable world is
over. All that remains of the West is an illusion caused by relative
material prosperity. The moral bankruptcy and disregard for life has
been opened to all. Yes, and moderates like me are outraged at the
West, and its Satanic hypocrisy. And yes, we are determined to make
it a better world with respect and values for all human beings, where
the life of an Afghan peasan is as valuable as a Wall St. bond
broker. A world in which slavery does not take new form in every
century. A world in which Truth shines, and that world is near,
nearer than we think.

I humbly request you not to demean
yourself by pretending to be unaware of what are cultural traditions
and what is Islam. You know it well, and coming from an Indian Muslim
family, you know the relationship between Muslim men and women, and the checks and balances of that culture and its relationship with Islam.

Original Message ——————————-

No outrage from Muslim moderates

Nov. 28, 2002. 01:00 AM

It’s been quite a week in the wonderful world of

Nigerian Islam’s encounter with that powerhouse of subversion,
the Miss World contest, has been unedifying, to put it mildly. First,
some of the contestants had the nerve to object to a Sharia court’s
sentence that a Nigerian woman convicted of adultery be stoned to death
and threatened to boycott the contest — which forced the Nigerian
authorities to promise that the woman in question would not be
subjected to the lethal hail of rocks. And then Isioma Daniel,
a Christian Nigerian journalist, had the effrontery to suggest
that if the prophet Muhammad were around today, he might have
wanted to marry one of these swimsuit hussies himself.

Well, obviously, that was going too far. True-believing Nigerian
Muslims then set about the holy task of killing, looting and burning
while calling for Daniel to be beheaded, and who could blame them? Not
the president of Nigeria, who put the blame squarely on the shoulders
of the hapless journalist.

Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hashem Aghajari, a
person with impeccable Islamist credentials, languishes under a
sentence of death imposed because he criticized the mullahs
who run the country. Thousands of young people across the
country were immature enough to protest against Aghajari’s
sentence, for which the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, duly rebuked them. (More than 10,000 true believers
marched through Tehran in support of hard-line Islam.)

Meanwhile, in Egypt, a hit television series, Horseman Without
A Horse
, has been offering up anti-Semitic programming to a huge,
eager audience. That old forgery, The Protocols Of The Elders Of
a document purporting to prove that there really is a secret
Jewish plot to take over the world, and which was proved long ago to
have been faked is treated in this drama series as historical fact.

Finally, let’s not forget the horrifying story of the Dutch
Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has had to flee the Netherlands
because she said that Muslim men oppressed Muslim women, a vile idea
that so outraged Muslim men that they issued death threats against her.

Is it unfair to bunch all these different uglinesses together?
Perhaps. But they do have something in common. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was
accused of being “the Dutch Salman Rushdie,” Aghajari of being the
Iranian version, Isioma Daniel of being the Nigerian incarnation of the
same demon.

A couple of months ago I said that I detested the sloganization
of my name by Islamists around the world. I’m beginning to rethink that
position. Maybe it’s not so bad to be a Rushdie among other “Rushdies.”
For the most part I’m comfortable with, and often even proud of, the
company I’m in.

Where, after all, is the Muslim outrage at these events? As their
ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical
reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male
supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are
they not screaming?

The Islamic world today is being held prisoner, not by Western
but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a
badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as the majority
remains silent, this will be a tough war to win.