Believe or not, it has been 25 years since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death fatwa for Salman Rushdie — promising paradise and reward to anyone who killed the author simply because he wrote a book with what was viewed as blasphemous to Islam. For civil libertarians, it was a defining moment where Islam was pitted against the most basic and cherished values of free speech. The world was shocked by the decision even from the radical Iranian government. However, we have not heard much of the fatwa in years. Just to prove that the Islamic clerics remain as fanatical and anti-speech as they were in 1989, senior cleric Ahmad Khatami renewed the call to kill Rushdie and declared that the “historical fatwa” is “as fresh as ever.” What is clear is that, while the world views the fatwa as an example of religious extremism and insanity, the Islamic cleric remain proud of the death order as a pure expression of Islamic law and values.
Ahmad Khatami is a senior Iranian Ayatollah as well as a senior member of the Assembly of Experts. You may recall him as the cleric who called on Pope Benedict XVI to “fall on his knees in front of a senior Muslim cleric and try to understand Islam.”
Khatami even reminded followers of the $3.3 million reward for killing the author. (In 2012, Hassan Sanei, the head of the state-funded 15 Khordad, raised the bounty on Rushdie’s head by $500,000 to $3.3 million). Khatami encouraged Muslims to murder Rushie and said that “Faithful Muslims are looking for an opportunity to implement Imam’s fatwa.”
I often joke that Satanic Verses is the most owned and least read book in the world. Like many, I ran out to buy a copy as an expression of support for Rusdie and I was never able to finish the book by the Indian-born writer.
What is most distressing is how, since this controversy, the West has yielded to the demands of Islamic clerics and followers in the curtailment of free speech, the subject of prior columns. (here and here). Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech. We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard. This shows the natural progression of such laws to enlist the mob in its enforcement.
I have always viewed the Rushie fatwa as the start of this trend toward the crackdown on free speech in the name of religion or (as in the West) tolerance for religious minorities.
What is interesting is that some Muslims view the incident in the same light from the opposing perspective. Sanei, who raised the reward, said that Rushdie opened the door to “Islamophobic literature”: “Surely if the sentence of the Imam had been carried out, the later insults in the form of caricatures, articles and the making of movies would not have occurred.” That statement is an example of the utter insanity that is maintained in these minds of of Islamic fanatics. They honestly believe that they can defeat free speech by simply executing and murdering a few authors.
Accordingly, in honor to people like Sanei and a nation that seems intent to prove to the world that it can retain institutional insanity for decades without any adjustment for reality, I offer the following song in honor of those crazy Islamic clerics:
Source: Daily Mail