Backlash grows against British award of knighthood to Salman Rushdie
Pakistani hard-line clerics respond with an award of their own to Osama bin Laden.
The award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," has prompted deep criticism from Egypt's parliament, which said Wednesday that the move was a bigger mistake than the publication of Danish cartoons about the prophet Muhammad that provoked global protests.Skip to next paragraph
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The parliament's Arab Affairs Committee said that the honor was a rejection of "all diplomatic principles" as it was given to someone who "has become famous because of his hostility to Islam."
Britain's award of a knighthood to the novelist, whose 1988 novel was criticized for its depiction of Islam, has stirred anger among many world Muslims, most notably in Pakistan, which has seen days of anti-British demonstrations and prompted one cabinet minister apparently to come out in defense of suicide attacks.
Reuters reports that a major Pakistani religious organization, the Ulema Council, has presented an award of their own to Osama bin Laden in response to Rushdie's knighthood.
If a blasphemer can be given the title 'Sir' by the West despite the fact he's hurt the feelings of Muslims, then a mujahid who has been fighting for Islam against the Russians, Americans and British must be given the lofty title of Islam, Saifullah," the chairman, Tahir Ashrafi, told Reuters.
A Mujahid is a Muslim holy warrior. Bin Laden was one of many Arabs who helped Afghan guerrillas battle Soviet invaders in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The speaker of the provincial assembly in Punjab province said blasphemers should be killed while Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of Pakistan's ruling party, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair was "personally and mentally against Islam.
Rushdie's novel famously led to Iran's then-religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, to call in 1989 for the murder of Rushdie and all of his collaborators. That forced Rushdie into years of hiding and led to the murder of his Japanese translator and attacks on his Italian and Norwegian translators.
Agence France-Presse reports that Britain has felt compelled to defend its decision.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett … said that Britain was "sorry if there are people who have taken very much to heart this honor, which is after all for a lifelong body of literary work." She stressed that the 60-year-old Rushdie was just one of many Muslims who had been recognized by the honors system, something she said "may not be realised by many of those who have been vocal in their opposition...."
[The] comments came amid a rising fury in the Muslim world at the honor for Rushdie, with 20 members of Malaysia's main Islamic opposition, the Pan-Malaysia Islamic party, shouting "Go to hell Britain! Go to hell Rushdie!" outside the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The article also cites Abul Rashi Ghazi, who runs a hard-line mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, as calling for Rushdie's murder.
"Salman Rushdie deserves to be killed and anyone who has the power must kill him," Ghazi said in a statement. He added that if the Pakistani government cooperated "we will make arrangements to murder ... Rushdie here."