Rushdie's knighthood

We’ll begin with Pakistani government reaction to the British decision to knight novelist Salman Rusdie:

A SENIOR minister in the Pakistani Government has urged Muslim countries to break diplomatic relations with London and claimed a suicide bomb attack would be a justified response to author Salman Rushdie’s knighthood.

The Pakistan Parliament called on the British Government to reverse the decision to award the knighthood or face further protests from Muslim nations.

Break diplomatic relations over a symbolic knighthood? This gives the term “overreaction” a whole new dimension.

“This is an occasion for the (world’s) 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision,” Mr ul-Haq said.

Mr ul-Haq is Pakistan’s religious affairs minister. He’s calling on all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims to “look at the seriousness” of knighting a novelist in Britain. He may not realize that he’s also calling on the rest of the world outside Dar-al-Islam to look at the seriousness of the reaction to the knighthood.

Thus far, commenters and pundits who regularly decry this or that civil liberties “abuse” on the part of any Western government and especially the Bush administration, are silent as Pakistani officials demand what is in effect a tribute from the British government for the crime of knighting a novelist. This is a true attempt to crush dissent, yet the left yawns.

There’s an interesting circumstantial case to be made that Prince Charles of England has secretly converted to Islam, or at least become a syncretic along the lines of that Episcopal priest I posted about yesterday. I’m not going to make or debunk that case since I have no hard opinion on it one way or the other; Daniel Pipes has collected the best evidence for and against and you can judge for yourself whether the future king of England and “defender of the faith” has changed the faith or faiths he would defend. But speaking of that:

Sep. 4, 2005 update: Prince Charles revealed in a letter leaked to the Daily Telegraph that he had strained relations with George Carey, then archbishop of Canterbury, over his attitude toward Islam. Particularly contentious was his expressed intent, on becoming king and supreme governor of the Church of England, to ditch the centuries’ old defender of the faith title and replace it with defender of faith and defender of the Divine.

I will say that given Prince Charles’ obvious affection for Islam, which goes back several years now, the decision to knight Salman Rushdie this week takes on a domestic political dimension, inside the UK and possibly inside the royal family itself. It’s not hard to imagine the Queen and Prince lobbing $5,000 vases at each other in Buckingham Palace over the decision, whether Charles is really a crypto-Muslim or just a very large dhimmi. For the 81 year old queen to end a long succession of badly chosen knighthoods — Elton John, etc — by knighting someone who has actually stood up in the face of mullah-inspired murder plots for nearly 20 years, and with the knighthood coming possibly against the wishes of the heir to the throne, it’s an act of sound judgement and even courage. This is the queen who survived the Blitz and remembers an England that knew how to fight for her life.

Outside the UK, and particularly in Pakistan, Rushdie’s knighthood has inspired adherents to the religion of peace to go ballistic. Back to Mr. ul-Haq, the religious affairs minister.

“The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the ‘sir’ title,” Mr. ul-Haq said.

In one breath, the religious affairs minister goes from accusing the West of accusing Muslims of being terrorists, to justifying terrorism itself.

Lawmakers in Pakistan’s lower house of parliament yesterday passed a resolution proposed by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, who branded Mr. Rushdie a “blasphemer.” Mr. Rushdie was born in India into a Muslim family.

“The ‘sir’ title from Britain for blasphemer Salman Rushdie has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims across the world. Every religion should be respected. I demand the British government immediately withdraw the title as it is creating religious hatred,” Mr. Niazi told the National Assembly.

I would humbly suggest that what’s actually creating religious hatred are not knighthoods for novelists who live comfortably in the West, but scenes like this:


That’s a scene in Pakistan, one of our and the UK’s allies in the war against Islamic terrorism. Folks like these are a bullet or a bomb away from taking power in the world’s only acknowledged nuclear Islamic state. And it’s a state in which the religious affairs minister — pause over that government title for a second — justifies terrorism against a British subject, now knight, for the crime of blaspheming a religion in which the knight does not believe.

Adds Pakistan’s Foreign Minister:

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Mr. Rushdie’s knighthood would hamper interfaith understanding and that Islamabad would protest to London.

I beg to differ: The reaction to Rushdie’s knighthood has enhanced my understanding of the religion of peace a great deal. Pakistani officials, secular and religious, are on the record deploring the British knighthood for Rushdie as “insensitive,” but silent on the 1989 Iranian fatwa that would have seen him murdered. That says quite a bit more about Islam and its adherents than they realize. Like the cartoon jihad, the knighthood jihad is a clarifying moment in history. Most in the West are sure to miss its meaning entirely.

Update: Rushdie has asked for police protection, and an Iranian group has upped the bounty on his head to $150,000. What does the Pakistani minister for religious affairs have to say about that?

And, PJM’s Flemming Rose looks beyond Pakistan to how the UN is being used by tyrants to squelch free speech in the name of religious sensitivity.

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