Salman Rushdie: I talked to Jon Stewart and he's fine with Yusuf Islam's rally cameo

We’re consumed with other matters today, but spare a moment for a man who spent his weekend watching someone who called for him to be murdered for blasphemy playing to an adoring crowd of thousands of liberals. In front of the U.S. Capitol. At a rally dedicated to sanity. Televised on a comedy channel. Rushdie:

I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam’s appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.

That’s via Standpoint magazine, which is offline at the moment after being swamped by traffic. Newsbusters saw the quote this morning too, though, and helpfully reminds us that Yusuf, despite his endless spinning about Rushdie over the years, has never formally apologized for it. If he had, Rushdie’s reaction to the rally surely would have been different: He is willing to forgive sincerely repentant fatwa-ites, as he proved with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For once I have some sympathy for Olbermann, who was so annoyed at being included in Stewart’s video montage of talking heads who make America less sane. Dummy that he is, he was upset at being lumped in with Glenn Beck, not with being derided as extreme at a rally where a guy who’s condoned religious murder is standing right there on stage. But still. Say what you will about Olby, at least he’s not calling for apostates to be put to the sword. On the ol’ sanity-o-meter, I dare say he rates a smidge higher than someone who once said, when asked what he’d do if he knew Rushdie’s whereabouts, “I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is.”

One more thing. There’s a common perception, I think, that Yusuf’s old comments about Rushdie were some sort of freak thing, a bizarre aberration for a man who’s otherwise spent decades riding the peace train. Not so. I have a hard copy of an article published by GQ in May 2003 (written, actually, by Jake Tapper in his pre-ABC days) titled “How Cuddy Is Cat?” that describes various relationships Yusuf has had with jihadi degenerates over the years. I can’t find the article anywhere online — if GQ wants to add it to their website archives, I’ll happily guarantee them a few thousand hits — but if you have access to Lexis/Nexis, dial it up and dig in. In sum: Allegedly, this is a guy who was, at one time, pals with the godfather of British Islamism, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who chaired an Islamist charity whose website spoke openly about sending money to the “mujahedeen” for weapons so that they can fight jihad, and whose name appeared on an anti-semitic pamphlet written by a friend who said Yusuf personally approved of the contents. As for Yusuf’s claims to have reformed over time, here’s Tapper:

Tapper’s verdict from earlier in the piece: “He is not the peaceful face of Islam; there are just too many nagging questions, too few credible excuses — matters he refused to talk to me about, though his older brother tried valiantly to explain everything. At the very least, he is the complicit face of the Muslim world.” And now, I guess, semi-officially the “sane” one.

That’s too much of a downer to end with on a day as otherwise upbeat as today. So here’s MKH having a little fun with rallygoers. Cleanse that palate! Polls close in just an hour.