Buenos Aires Weather | The Long Arm of the Iranian Inquisition

In the late 1980s, when Salman Rushdie was writing the novel that would make him famous among people who cared little for literary works of any kind, he knew it would annoy some squeamish Muslims, but it didn’t occur to him. mind that one of their “spiritual leaders” would put a contract on his head. Then, to the world’s surprise, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did just that by issuing a fatwa offering $3 million to anyone who assassinated the blasphemer and This forced Rushdie into hiding for more than a decade during which the British Secret Service did whatever it took to foil the hitmen who wanted to catch him and had the support of parties from the local Muslim community ready to help them track down their prey.

But over the years Sir Salman – as he became in June 2007 when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his ‘services to literature’ – has felt able to take part in public events without being surrounded by well-armed bodyguards ready to brutalize any suspicious person. who tried to approach him. That’s why a young fanatic named Hadi Matar could leap unopposed onto a stage and repeatedly stab him as he was about to deliver a speech at the Chautauqua Institute in a rural part of New State. York. Matar, or his relatives because he could spend the rest of his life behind bars, will he be able to claim the bounty promised by the Iranians? If Rushdie, who is believed to be recovering, fails to pull through, we may soon know the answer.

Meanwhile, as tends to happen whenever Islamists commit atrocities in Western countries, New York police, politicians and all respectable journalists quickly swore they had no idea what who could motivate Matar. It’s their way of letting the world know that they understand it’s wrong even to suggest that followers of a particular religion are more likely than others to kill people for religious reasons. In their opinion, it is completely wrong to think that there could be a link between Islam and terrorism, even if the Koran, which the believers teach, was dictated by the Almighty himself and must therefore to be taken at face value, contains many passages al Qaeda and Islamic State warriors like to quote because in their own eyes and even in the eyes of Islamic scholars who hate them, they give sanction divine to their bloodthirsty behavior.

In any event, while there is no doubt that a large majority of Muslims who have settled in the West are law-abiding men and women who would never dream of resorting to violence against non-believers or other Muslims who stray from the true path as stated by the clerics, there are still millions who say that on occasion it is right and even necessary to do so; after Khomeini’s intervention, Muslim crowds in British cities gathered to hurl abuse at the author of satanic verses and demand that he be painfully put to death.

For a time, it seemed like most Western governments would refuse to be bullied by Islamic potentates trying to force them to pass tough blasphemy laws. However, aided by a widespread willingness to do almost anything to stave off communal violence, the mood quickly changed. These days, succumbing to “Islamophobia” can land you in serious trouble in most English-speaking countries where the Iranian inquisition, as well as its Sunni counterparts, have many allies.

In 1989 leading Western literary figures closed ranks behind Rushdie, although even then some said they thought he asked for it, but since then much has changed. The rise and rise of identity politics, with an increasing number of groups saying they feel ‘unsafe’ if criticized, even in the lightest way, has created a situation in which ‘offending’ is seen by many in positions of power as an intolerable crime that deserves severe punishment.

In the UK, saying anything supposedly provocative about Muslims, gays, transgender people, ‘people of colour’ etc. that is, indoctrination. These efforts have the enthusiastic support of much of academia, some major media organizations, the civil service and many large commercial entities, all of whom are committed to ensuring that dissidents lose their jobs and with them their chances of succeeding in their careers.

Unsurprisingly, this sort of thing and the self-censorship it encourages has had a dampening effect on creativity. In the English-speaking world, freedom of expression is now a relative concept; you can say whatever you want as long as it doesn’t make anyone anxious or uncomfortable. Rushdie himself is well aware that in the 21st century he would have struggled to find a publisher for satanic verses and that it would therefore have been unlikely that he would write it and that if, despite his efforts to be emollient, he somehow managed to receive a murderous fatwa, much less literary eminence the would argue only in 1989 because they thought they were gratuitously insulting a vulnerable ethnic and cultural minority.

A third of a century ago, most educated Westerners seemed ready to defend freedom of expression because they knew that without it their civilization would have remained stuck where it was in the Middle Ages, but then the need to welcome not only newcomers but also bands that having “come out of the closet” has set back a lot. Pessimists warn that as a result, faith in what the West was once meant to represent has collapsed, damaging not only Westerners themselves, but also those who have fled societies in what was once described as backward parts of the world, mainly because they valued the freedoms they had been denied back home.

In Africa, Arab countries, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and many other parts of the world, including European enclaves dominated by recent immigrants and their offspring, many men and women feel betrayed by those Westerners who, in fact, support blasphemy laws designed to silence anyone who dares speak out against mainstream orthodoxies. In the United Kingdom, the most eloquent defenders of what can be called “the Western way of life” tend to be recent immigrants from Africa and the Middle East who, understandably, are alarmed to see influential members of the British cultural establishment to make common cause with the worst reactionaries in the repressive societies they left behind.

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