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    Times article - Salman Rushdie

    by Sunny on 13th February, 2009 at 10:47 am    

    I’ve written an article for today’s Times on Salman Rushdie and the Satanic Verses controversy, which is published in the newspaper. The jist is: The Salman Rushdie affair prompted all of us to examine what it means to be British.

    I’m also bloody exhausted and tired. Blogging might be light as I catch up on a mountain of emails.

      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Events, History, Media

    15 Comments below   |  

    1. Leon — on 13th February, 2009 at 11:21 am  

      The Salman Rushdie affair prompted all of us to examine what it means to be British.

      It did? I don’t quite remember it being covered like that at the time…

    2. dave bones — on 13th February, 2009 at 11:55 am  

      Have you read The Satanic Verses Sunny? What did you think of the story?

    3. Kismet Hardy — on 13th February, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

      You know, I’ve heard so many people chide things like ‘the only crime that book committed was being so boring arf arf’ – with the tedious thing about that observation being its most often spouted by those who haven’t read the damn thing. It’s a brilliant book, and if not on a par with midnight’s children, then definitely a contender for one of the most interesting, witty, funny (yes, funny) and insightful books written in modern times. I read it again very recently and it hasn’t dated at all, nor has my stance to pay no heed to fundos and wikipedia critics who can’t be arsed to read what they’ve been rubbishing.

      But book aside, Sunny’s probably right. The reaction to the book was the first time most people in the UK at least thought: ‘bloody hell, these muslims are a bit intense aren’t they?’

    4. platinum786 — on 13th February, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

      lol… an alternative perspective at least.

      Sunny might be right. I’m too young to be remember all that, but he has a point, I can see it acting like cattle prong moment for our community.

    5. damon — on 13th February, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

      I really get Sunny’s idea of having to bash down the walls of prejudice in the way he has described.
      But I also think that it is a crude battering ram.
      Think of ouside West Hams football ground on a match day, In Green Street. the coming together of 35,000 football fans, and the ”new east end”.
      It’s not always comfortable to view.
      But maybe it was the better way (not like France).

    6. blah — on 13th February, 2009 at 2:55 pm  

      As well as the negatives many good things came out of the Rushdie affair. The scurillous attack that the book was gave British Muslim a voice and allowed to them to see themselves as Muslims not as Asians- the inadequate unsatsifactory grouping circumstances had previously forced them into.

    7. Sunny — on 13th February, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

      damon - progression never really is neat, tidy and idealistic.

    8. dave bones — on 13th February, 2009 at 6:21 pm  

      I thought it was an extremely psychedelic colection of stories, right from the first few pages it is so rooted in the imagination. I found it a much easier read than Midnights Children although that was very good as well. Strangely enough I read it in India where it is officially banned of course.

      I can see that Muslims would be offended by Rushdies retelling of the angelic inspiration of the Koran but I can’t see why they wouldn’t just think- this guy had a bit of a hard time growing up a Muslim.

      They must think it is inspired by Satan or something eh. they should read it.

    9. Ms_Xtreme — on 13th February, 2009 at 7:06 pm  

      this guy had a bit of a hard time growing up a Muslim.

      That’s exactly what you think when you read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “The Infidel.”

      Rushdie only magnified and exaggerated what the negatives of the religion are. Am sure that can happen to any group of believing people given enough focus into the belief’s origins.

    10. dave bones — on 13th February, 2009 at 8:33 pm  

      I think they are angry because he retold a bit of the Koran questioning the angelic inspiration. It doesn’t say directly that it is Mohammed getting this angelic inspiration in a cave but it mirrors the story. Its been a while since I read it though.

    11. blah — on 13th February, 2009 at 9:04 pm  

      “I think they are angry because he retold a bit of the Koran questioning the angelic inspiration. It doesn’t say directly that it is Mohammed getting this angelic inspiration in a cave but it mirrors the story. Its been a while since I read it though”

      Or perhaps because he potrayed the Prophets wives who are considered to be like mothers to Muslims as women who sell themselves in a brothel.

      Im sure you would be overjoyed by a book calling your mother a whore.

    12. dave bones — on 13th February, 2009 at 9:39 pm  

      Sounds like playground stuff to me.

    13. damon — on 14th February, 2009 at 11:27 am  

      Kenan Malik was discussing this subject at a conference in november. The whole thing can been seen on this link.
      While the Rushdie affair may have speeded up change (a good thing), it also did much damage. As Malik says, it led to publishers becoming censorious and nervous about putting out things that might be deemed as offensive. It also didn’t show ”the Muslim population” (of course I’m over generalising) in a good light. I still wonder how things are so different when it comes to how the wider population views religious Muslims. White flight has taken place, (which again, may have been a positive - as if people moved away from places because they were racists, then the area they left will have less racists). I was over in the southern part of the Isle of Dogs (in Tower Hamlets east London) the other day.
      This was the area that elected a BNP counilor in 1992, but from what I saw of the school kids who were coming out of school in the afternoon - the greater majority were of south Asian origin, and everything looked peaceful. Loads of mothers in Islamic dress too, going to pick their young ones up from primary school. Then when you see an England flag hanging from a balcony of a flat, you wonder what is meant by puting a flag on display like that.
      Could it be that things are better in places like the East End of London, first because there has been real progress, and time has moved things on for the better - but at the same time, people keep their opinions to themselves a bit more these days?

      I was shocked to see a small group of extremists holding a meeting outside a large central London mosque (on the friday after Nato started bombing Afghanistan after 9/11)- and getting a somewhat sympathetic reaction from (more than a hundred) of the regular people who had just finished prayers.
      I understood that people might be upset about Afghanistan, but the guys with the megaphones were extremists - urging people to go to Pakistan and fight in Afghanistan.
      Maybe people now just say nothing in public.
      Or like in a resturant near West Ham’s football ground, you see a poster advertising a political meeting (anout Iraq), and you see that one of the speakers listed is from on of the radical groups.
      No one these days is going to say anything to the people in the resturant. (Well, not a non Muslim person anyway - as you may be taken as being ”islamophobic” or something).

    14. S Johal — on 14th February, 2009 at 8:03 pm  

      Sikhs - who fought to be exempt from the crash-helmet laws because of their turbans - were the first to become politicised.

      Your above statement is completly incorrect, The first people from the Indian Sub Continent where organized by Indian Workers Assocations, which was estabilished in 1938. I am surprised you didn,t mention the IWA your article in the above context. The IWA was only organization who publicly challenged the Khalistanis.

      http://www.connectinghistoris. org.uk

    15. Sunny — on 15th February, 2009 at 12:12 am  

      S Johal - I’m not disagreeing, but it was difficult to give a complete history of Asian politicisation.

      My point there was to say that among religious identities, Sikhs almost came before Muslims in getting organised…

      damon -I’m not saying its effect was entirely positive. But I said there was a silver lining to it all. On balance, it may have been a bad thing. Though you could argue something like the Satanic Verses controversy was going to come up sooner or later anyway.

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