A useful alternative to the heroisation of Rushdie which has followed publication of his self-glorifying and justifying autobiography, pointing out the many errors and obfuscations in it:
He accuses Khomeini of taking “his country into a useless war with its neighbours” and sees more evidence of Muslim irrationalism in the frenzied mourning provoked in Iran by the old fanatics death. In fact, it was Saddam Hussein who invaded Iran, and then assaulted it with chemical weapons, with the consent, even support, of western countries. This not only stoked a long-simmering anti-westernism in Iran, which had been occupied by Russia and Britain during both world wars, and then suffered for decades the brutal dictatorship of the pro-American shah. The second longest intra-nation war of the 20th century, which killed nearly one million Iranians, also entrenched the Basij militia and Revolutionary Guards, made life harder for the moderates who cancelled Khomeinis fatwa, and eventually helped bring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
When the previous week’s Guardian devoted several pages reiterating the Western intelligentsia’s knee-jerk reaction to the Khomeini fatwa, I wrote the following letter setting the record straight:
When the Ayatollah declared his fatwa against Salman Rushdie I was reading chapters at my local church from “Witnesses to Glory”, my life of Jesus set in the present day. To return the story to its shocking reality I had made some changes: Magdalene became a male prostitute; Judas a female terrorist, Herod a female prime minister (no prizes for guessing which real person she was modelled upon). Mary Whitehouse declared her own fatwa against me in the Daily Telegraph, and the curate who had arranged my readings was reproved by the Rector. No religious publisher would publish the book because, as one said revealingly, it would harm sales of his more middle-of-the-road books. (I have since self-published it on Amazon Kindle: Click to read or buy the book.)
I published a pamphlet, “The Fear and the Fatwa“, in which I tried to examine this cause celebre, and, while identifying with Rushdie I also tried to understand why his story which comes out of the Islamic tradition) had caused Muslims such pain.
When a Muslim scholar came to Bradford to support the fatwa I spoke up in defence of Rushdie at a meeting of over a thousand local Muslims, who gave me a respectful hearing. Some even applauded at the end. Others queued up to buy my pamphlet. I received no death threats.
I am revising my pamphlet for publication on Kindle as part of my “Against Religions” series, but meanwhile the original text may be downloaded from http://karldallas.com/TheFearAndTheFatwa.doc.