June 21, 2007



From AFP: New Rushdie protests after Britain defends award. (via Little Green Footballs)

Muslim anger flared Thursday after Britain defended Salman Rushdie's knighthood, with fresh protests against the novelist and Pakistani traders offering a big reward for his beheading.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Indian Kashmir and Pakistan, while Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, criticised the timing of the honour.

The Indian-born Rushdie was given the award on Saturday, 18 years after he was sentenced to death by Iran's hardline clerical regime for writing what it said was a blasphemous book, "The Satanic Verses".

"We will give 10 million rupees (165,000 dollars) to anyone who beheads Rushdie," Islamabad traders' association leader Ajmal Baluch told around 200 people in one of the Pakistani capital's main bazaars.

The crowd chanted, "Cut off the head of Salman Rushdie!" ...

Later Afzal Sahi -- the speaker of the Punjab province assembly and a member of the Pakistan Muslim League party that backs President Pervez Musharraf -- said in a debate that he would "definitely kill" Rushdie if he could.

During a protest against Musharraf by thousands of people in Lahore witnesses said a large part of the crowd briefly chanted, "Death to Britain! Death to Rushdie!"

From the BBC: Why Salman Rushdie was knighted.

His book, The Satanic Verses, was seen as so offensive to Muslims that he was forced into hiding, under threat of death.

The latest controversy over his knighthood appears to have shocked the people involved in nominating and selecting him.

Jonathan Heawood, director of the English branch of Pen, said: "We have argued for a long time that Salman Rushdie should be recognised by the government as a giant of world literature.

"I've been struggling for a form of words that does not sound naive but we were taken aback, everyone was taken aback, by the scale of the reaction."

Posted by Forkum at June 21, 2007 04:06 PM