About Salman Rushdie and the Larger Fatwa

Salman Rushdie’s decades-old fatwa has just been increased to something like US 3.3 million. I’d like to laugh about it, but I can’t. It’s scary. Now, to be honest, I also would never support a fatwa against the director (?) of that new “movie” about Islam. I might hate what you say, but if you say it you say it because who knows what I might wind up saying, right?

Or you. Therefore my problem with censorship.

Whoever you are, I love you. You’ve taken the time to check out this tiny outpost on the Web, and I’m grateful. It doesn’t matter the country from which you’re reading this, long as you find something useful here. We might sometimes disagree. That isn’t as important as the idea that interaction happens—respectfully and above all peacefully, yes? I slam hell out of those with whom I disagree but please notice I abhor violence. Careers should end, but lives should continue, and we must love each other or else.

For me, what Rushdie wrote was literary critique, not base ridicule; what the above filmmakers did was ridicule, I agree. But we must not hate in either case. I just doubt the idea that the latter are actually filmmakers in any sense above the completely amateur, whereas Rushdie’s truly a fine writer whose work will stand up to time.

Fatwas are horrifying, no matter the target. They help silence the center and deepen the gorges that divide faiths and ideologies. They’re horrifying as Qur’an burnings are horrifying, and on and on and on. How many more examples do we need before we—and by we I mean a truly, radically singular human culture no longer subdivided by nation, culture, race, greed—finally understand that survival depends on nothing less than common, mutual effort? Otherwise….

That said, my best wishes to Rushdie. The fatwa wound up selling more copies of Satanic Verses than the publishers could ever have imagined. It cemented Rushdie’s public life. However, the fact that this still exists at all is a great sadness.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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