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.
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.