Sunday, July 01, 2007

Book Burner

I used to be a book burner, but when I think about Salman Rushdie now, I believe the freedom to offend is a necessary freedom.

Comment is free: I used to be a book burner.

That was Inayat Bunglawala, the Assistant Secretary-General at the Muslim Council of Britain, commenting on the awarding of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie has caused an uproar with Muslims after publishing his book The Satanic Verses in 1988 that got him a death fatwa from Ayatollah Khomeini.

Inayat remembers how he opposed the book, even burning it and participating in demonstrations against it. However, with time he came to a different realization..

In the intervening years I have managed to travel to Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere and it is always with a sense of warmth that I return to the UK. Our detractors had been right. The freedom to offend is a necessary freedom.
Moreover, Islam has flourished wherever there has been a free atmosphere. I continue to strongly disagree with the way Rushdie caricatured early Islamic heroes of mine, but banning the book was not the answer.


Anonymous said...

im reading one of his books now. i havent read the satanic verses since its too hard to understand!

1001 Nights said...

By book burning and rioting you only give the author more attention and revenues! Also, I find it ethically unsound to even buy the book so you can go and burn it because it would mean you’re paying money to someone who offends your religion and why do that? The way to stop things like anti-Islam writings, pornography, overly violent movies, or whatever it is you’re opposed to is to try to alter the readers’/viewers’ habits in a way that decreases the monetary reward instead of increasing it by giving the person more fame!

Kinano said...

I really don't understand what the uproar is about!

I am all for the freedom of expression of one's opinions. That does not necessarily mean that I accept those opinions, but I at least respect them.

I haven't read The Satanic Verses and I am sure that most of those protesters in Pakistan, Egypt...etc haven't either. Especially that the book is banned in the first place. So my question is: How can you protest against something that you haven't personally experienced?! It just doesn't make sense.

It doesn't mean that you have to agree with whatever any person says. Religion has always been a debatable topic and I am definite that not two people of the same religion have the same level of understanding of that religion.

Rushdie's book might have been offensive, but that does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with it. Reading a book, or respecting its author, does not necessarily imply you endorsing its views.

Know what you protest against first and then you have the right to protest. Otherwise, your protests will just be acts of ignorance. Not more, not less!

Bu Ziyad said...

nights: not sure of the point of trying to stop anything..let them say what they want or show what they want and let people decide for themselves what to read or watch.. I think on the level of society education is the best safeguard so that people make enlightened choices..

kinan: believe me if people were capable of reading such books they would not be protesting!

1001 Nights said...

Let me clarify. By saying “stop” them I didn't mean doing anything violent or even illegal. I meant doing things on a personal level that limit the monetary reward for people who create inflammatory or divisive or smutty products that have nil educational value – such as not buying their products for example. You can’t get into people’s minds and decide for them but you can definitely be someone who takes a stand for him/herself and pick a position when it comes to things you believe in.

Bu Ziyad said...

nights: Absolutely I agree with you :) I think you should take a stand for what you believe in in a legal non violent way..

eshda3wa said...

banning anything is never the answer

people have a right to know, think , and deside for themselves

not a government or an individual should have the right to deside for u

Bu Ziyad said...

eshda3wa: very true..

Anonymous said...

I dont read books so i dont burn them either , But i dont condone with hurting someone else's religion and make money out of it . All religions must be respected . As for book burners enough is said already !