Britain’s decision to confer the knighthood on Bombay-born author Salman Rushdie has created a major storm in the Islamic world. Iran has said decorating “one of the most hated figures” in the Islamic world is an insult to Islamic values. And the Pakistani government and national assembly have termed it an “insult to Muslims” and urged Britain to immediately withdraw the title.
The objections stem from The Satanic Verses, the book that fetched a fatwa on Sir Salman from the Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. “Honouring and commending an apostate and hated figure will definitely put the British officials (in a position) of confrontation with Islamic societies,” an Iranian spokesman said. He added the knighthood showed that the process of insulting Islamic sanctities was not accidental but was being supported by some western countries.
Is the West deliberately playing a devious game of politics in the post-9/11 world by honouring writers such as Rushdie and V.S. Naipaul as Iran alleges? Or is the Islamic world overreacting to one book by Rushdie while ignoring his substantial body of work? Will the title, which has delighted the literary world, bring danger to Rushdie once again? Should Britain take back the title?
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