To sir with much foaming at the mouth

Salman Rushdie has been awarded a knighthood—it's well deserved, I say, as he is an excellent writer—but some people have reacted insanely. (Warning: Irony rich environment ahead.)

The award of a knighthood to the author Salman Rushdie justifies suicide attacks, a Pakistani government minister said today.

"This is an occasion for the 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision," Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, religious affairs minister, told the Pakistani parliament in Islamabad. "The west is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'sir' title."

Wait … so if you are accused of extremism and terrorism, the appropriate response to demonstrate the falsehood of the claim is to blow up an author? I don't need to be an apostate and an atheist to recognize that as a confirmation that they are extremists and terrorists.

Pakistan's minister for parliamentary affairs, Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, who proposed the resolution condemning the honour, branded Rushdie a "blasphemer".

She told MPs: "The 'sir' title from Britain for blasphemer Salman Rushdie has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims across the world. Every religion should be respected. I demand the British government immediately withdraw the title as it is creating religious hatred."

Awww, their feelings are hurt. Surely that's a good excuse, then, for them to run out and kill some people? Violently? With bombs? It's not as if the families of their victims might have their feelings hurt; the victim himself might feel a brief pang as he's turn apart, but that will pass.

No religion should be respected. Some don't even deserve to be tolerated.

The award of the title is not creating religious hatred. The religious themselves are fomenting hatred.

I think I've found a country where religious kooks who run it are crazier and dumber than our American leaders. In some ways, it's a little reassuring. In others … it's obvious that America is heading down the same road Pakistan is on. I do not want my grandchildren to grow up in that kind of religious world.

(via Ophelia)

Tags

More like this

An old friend of mine forwarded an email with a picture of someone named Mataji Nirmala Devi who had the Indian flag at her feet. She is apparently a spiritual leader. Anyway, the email was the collective nationalistic scream of Indians (atleast the ones who have email access and occupy themselves…
A group of writers and dissidents have issued a joint manifesto called Together facing the new totalitarianism, which has been published, appropriately, in the same Denmark newspaper that published the caricatures which have caused much violence around the world. The signers include Salman Rushdie…
So there's a rather livid article in the Independent by Johann Hari, titled "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?" Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed…
Salman Rushdie has an interesting insight into the fate of Osama bin Laden. He hasn't been an underground agent, stealthily hiding in caves for the last ten years — he's been living well in prosperous safety in plain sight, with the obvious assistance of…guess who. Osama bin Laden, the world's most…

More than anything, western nations need to press for the notion of freedom of religion as a universal human right. Nations that punish apostasy, as does Pakistan, should be sanctioned. And to these protests, we need to say that other people insulting one's religion and one's god and one's prophet is just something one has to tolerate, in a world where people are free to hold other views.

I might change this:
...press for the notion of freedom of religion as a universal human right.
to this:
...press for the notion of freedom FROM religion as a universal human right.
but I am otherwise with you in dreaming.

By afterthought (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

EXACTLY!
And I've noticed that an NGO is increasing the price on his head from $100,000 (issued in 2004)to $150,000. Of course, the NGO is the Committee of Glorification of the Martyrs of the Islamic Movement, so it's not exactly unbiased. But that pales in comparison to the $2.8M offered by the 15th Khordad Foundation, which is described as a "cultural body."

These people are f***ing insane!!! I'm so damned tired of religious sensibilities.

Our envoy in Pakistan has been summoned by the authorities to explain this outrageous slur! He responded with a reasonably forthright reply:

"Sir Salman's knighthood is a reflection of his contribution to literature throughout a long and distinguished career which has seen him receive international recognition for a substantial body of work," Mr Brinkley said in the statement. "It is simply untrue that this knighthood is intended as an insult to Islam or the Prophet Mohammed."

I would have preferred him to say that Rushdie has every right to insult your prophet, but I guess diplomats have to be, er, diplomatic about such things.

Oh and one Pakistani minister openly said that violence could be justified (before lamely retracting):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6763119.stm

Essentially the situation is this; there might be an increased chance that I could be blown up on my way into work (I live in London), because a few years ago an author I have never met, wrote something about a man who lived hundreds of years ago, and now our government has decided to reward the author for his various works. Right.

Essentially the situation is this; there might be an increased chance that I could be blown up on my way into work (I live in London), because a few years ago an author I have never met, wrote something about a man who lived hundreds of years ago, and now our government has decided to reward the author for his various works. Right.

Just remember that religion is a positive force in the world that enforces good family values and world peace! /sarcasm

By afterthought (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Combine this piece of news with the celebration of the martyrdom of Paul Hill and reverence for Eric Rudolph in the United States, and two of the world's "great religions" fit two pieces into the puzzle of the so-called "moral imperative" for religious belief.

"Without religion, how will people know the difference between right and wrong?"

We all ready know. Religion actively encourages very wrong behavior. We don't even need to read Hitchens' (which I highly recommend) latest book to know that religion poisons everything.

"I think I've found a country where religious kooks who run it are crazier and dumber than our American leaders. In some ways, it's a little reassuring"

Well, it is not so reassuring for us Indians...they obviously do not believe in 'love thy neighbour'
We have our crazy and dumb people running our country, but most are not religious kooks, and hopefully it will remain that way.

By the way, they also have nuclear weapons.
And Osama Bin Laden lives there.
Seriously, why on earth did the US attack Iraq when it has been clear for years that the Taliban are a Pakistan based/sponsored organization who simply went back home after Afghanistan was attacked? They are now busy imposing their medieval fundamentalism in Pakistan now and exporting it around the world (most notably to the UK where they have tried several attempts at mass murder, one of which succeeded).

It gets insaner. The Pakistan government has called in our High Commissioner to protest over her Maj's decision. I hope our Commisioner gives a two word answer the second of which is 'off'.

The row over Satanic Verses when it was published prompted large, violent demonstrations in the UK. Demands for Rushdie's death on TV were not dealt with, the establishment backed down instead of saying 'this is a liberal democracy with free speech, Islam deserves no special protection, disperse peacefully by all means. The next person to demand Rushdie be harmed gets done for incitement.'

We didn't, we rolled.

By Peter McGrath (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Although the British honours system is anachronistic and increasing irrelevant, the award to Rushdie is to be applauded. It makes a change to see our government displaying some symbolic backbone.

By Tycho the Dog (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Hey,

First I want to thank everyone for basically calling all Pakistanis loonies, and letting mild racism shine through.

Now that's out of the way...

I have to say that for secular individuals of Pakistani descent, the whole Salman Rushdie situation's been rather embarrassing, especially when you consider that his books are rather popular amongst Pakistanis (something not always mentioned).

Though the fellow is an appallingly average writer whose sales weren't harmed too much by the Fatwa- and I'm something of a bibliophile - the idea that someone was being punished for words, WORDS, is frightfully so 14th Century.

The funny thing is very few fundamentalists in Pakistan tend to forget that Jinnah - the "founder" of Pakistan - was exceedingly secular. He drank, smoked, didn't pray, and couldn't speak Urdu. Heck, the whole Islamisation of Pakistan didn't really take off until General Zia-Ul-Haq, a less than savoury character that the United States loved as much as Pinochet, if I do recall.

And seriously, did they ever tried reading the Satanic Verses? Of course not! Well, good for them since it really is a rather boring book.
Rushdie's other work is way better.

Can anything thing else be expected from a superstitious cult that incites its followers to stone 17 years old girls to death for falling in love with the wrong men?

And does anyone doubt that if this country were to slide back into the dark ages, and fanatics like Pat Robertson were to attain real power, that this country wouldn't begin burning witches again? (Regretfully, of course, with much praying and sorrow--and then a lot of 'praising the Lord' for delivering us from evil.)

How many people in this country saw the stoning video and thought to themselves "God will punish these people"?

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

What I find amazing is that the very freedom that allows Muslims in the UK to practice their religion more or less as they please is the same freedom they'd like to take away from everyone else. That this contradiction makes perfect sense in their bizarro world tells you everything you need to know.

And seriously, did they ever tried reading the Satanic Verses? Of course not! Well, good for them since it really is a rather boring book.
Rushdie's other work is way better.

Eh, Rushdie was never my cup of tea. I remember looking forward to reading SV thinking that it must be hot stuff. After reading the whole thing in 4 hours, I just went "That's it?" and lost all interest in the fellah.

Well, essentially it's very simple. For every burned effigy of Rushdie or someone else, like e.g. danish caricaturists, let's burn a mohammed effigy.

Well, essentially it's very simple. For every burned effigy of Rushdie or someone else, like e.g. danish caricaturists, let's burn a mohammed effigy.

Ya! And then everybody will end up singing 'kumbaya my lord'
around a marshmellow roast and everyone goes home happy.

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

hardline Muslim students burned effigies of the Queen and Rushdie, chanting "Kill him! Kill him!"

Ah yes, Islam, the Religion of Peace. Maybe one day these insufferable little children will grow up.

Seriously, why on earth did the US attack Iraq when...

This question raises a good point, of course - but we already know the answer, don't we?

First I want to thank everyone for basically calling all Pakistanis loonies, and letting mild racism shine through.

I agree that [in Faith-in-Buffy's-Body voice] that would be wrong but please point out where, above, either of those things were done? I see comments which rightly criticise the forces of Radical Islam and the power structures that sanction and condone it, but no racist comments or blanket condemnations of all Pakistanis.

That aside, thanks for the informative comment. Selective memory does seem to be a required feature of fundamentalist thinking.

Actually, it seems that it is not even certain that a person called Mohammed born in Mekka about 600 actually existed. The independent history of the region is scanty to absent. Arab rulers might have constructed their own state religion when they became powerful in a time that Byzantium and Persia had exhausted each other. Both Byzantium and Persia had a state religion: it was the thing to have for a powerful king. 'Mohammed' is a title, the Blessed, not an already existing name. An already existing pelgrimage to a meteriorite in a very remote desert city might have been incorporated. The oldest muslim text, the epigraph on the Dome of the Rock can be translated as a Christian text of one of the not-orthodox varieties.
See: Christoph Luxenberg, John Wansbrough, on Wikipedia

Can anything thing else be expected from a superstitious cult that incites its followers to stone 17 years old girls to death for falling in love with the wrong men?

Actually, she was and her family are of the Yazidi religion, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Du'a was killed because she was suspected of being in love with a Muslim man. Just FYI.

Honor killings are unfortunately widespread across religions in the region.

Well, essentially it's very simple. For every burned effigy of Rushdie or someone else, like e.g. danish caricaturists, let's burn a mohammed effigy.

Don't most tv shows/movies do that anyway, what with Muslims (identified as such) being loony and wacky terrorists, and all that?

I'm an atheist, but having grown up in a moderate Muslim family, I do get a tad annoyed when people talk about all Muslims in much the same way that Rush Limbaugh or Coulter might.

When the cartoon protests happened, I had no sympathy whatsoever for the protesters. True, the Danish cartoonists and their supporters showed a bad sense of timing and a rather phony sense of "Garsh, we didn't know brown people would be offended, even though we've been publishing offensive caricatures for centuries, golly gee.!" But after honour killings, stonings, death for blasphemy, et al, and it's cartoons that get people angry? Yeesh.

That being said, you are all aware that you sound more Sean Hannity than Richard Dawkins, right?

I'm just saying.

Sorry, my source said 'Muslim sect'.

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Now I may have got a little confused somewhere but is not Pakistan one those countries that Bush and Blair claim to be on our side in the fight against terrorism ? Call me stupid but how friendly is a government which a member of comes out call essentially says a suicide bombing would be justified ?

Of late I am becoming more and more convinced someone has putting the fucking morons in charge.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

That being said, you are all aware that you sound more Sean Hannity than Richard Dawkins, right?

Where do you see that as a valid comparison or was this just a lengthy concern troll?

By afterthought (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Still at least PZ did not say it was the "Queen of England" who knighted him. That really annoys me on a number of levels.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Protests in the muslim world over a knighthood for Rushdie. But mosques are blown up in Iraq and hardly a word from these same people. Very strange.

By Gregmusings (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

[...]I'm just saying.

No, you're just lying.

You claim not to support the extremists, but you pedantically pick over someone's choice of words while with a short sentence waving past events of gruesome barbarity? Do you really think no-one is going to notice your duplicity?

You are either an extremist yourself or a coward; both of those qualities are independent of the colour of one's skin.

By valhar2000 (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

I think I've found a country where religious kooks who run it are crazier and dumber than our American leaders. In some ways, it's a little reassuring. In others ... it's obvious that America is heading down the same road Pakistan is on.

You didn't already realize this? I mean, it makes the most sense to write about 'what you know' which obviously, in most of our cases is American religious fundamentalism, but all of the countries in that part of the world are many times worse than the US when it comes to religiosity. Here, bad though those groups are about restricting freedoms or preaching ignorance, they rarely threaten ordinary people with death or mutilation like the theocracies of that region. What we have here is nowhere near as scary.

"Of late I am becoming more and more convinced someone has putting the fucking morons in charge."

How late?

Essentially the situation is this; there might be an increased chance that I could be blown up on my way into work (I live in London), because a few years ago an author I have never met, wrote something about a man who lived hundreds of years ago, and now our government has decided to reward the author for his various works. Right.

And that's a risk that I as a Londoner am happy to take to live in a country that honours someone like Rushdie rather than ostracising him. I don't like the honours system, but if you're going to have it, he's exactly the sort of person who should be honoured.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Adnan,
I was also raised Muslim. Still, I disagree with you on many counts.
If you truely became an atheist, like I did, you must certainly know that from the view point of the late general Haq and his famous son, who made the remarks above, you and I are apostates and should be put to death.
I do find the fact that no Muslim has ever come out and denounced this barbaric rule disconcerting. That is why I am somehow skeptical of the term "moderate Muslim".
By the way Mr. Jinnah build a country based solely on religious identity(no other distinctions exist between Indians and Pakistanis. Language, yes, but there are other many other languages spoken on the subcontinent). So is it so surprising that it could get more radicalized with time?

By mndarwinist (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Rey Fox,

I have suspected it some years but became certain when the Americans re-elected Bush and we Brits re-elected Blair.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

To afterthought:

After reading my comment again, I do concede that I could have written that better.
What I meant was a few of the earlier comments (the delay thing whilst waiting for your comment to post is a pain) tended to use language that, though I understood the sentiment, came across - at first glance - as being akin to alot of what I'd been reading from the Right after 9/11. Being someone who lived in Pakistan and having a "muslim" name (despite being an athiest, which has already gotten me kicked out of the family graveyard in advance. Apparently. Long story), you could understand my concern for what was, I admit, knee-jerk reflexive.

To valhar2000: I think it was the "You claim to not support" part that made me automatically lose interest in what you wrote. Being that I'm tired after six years of living in a country dealing with death threats from fundamentalists, and another two spent working with Afghani refugees escaping the Taliban, you could excuse me for not being too upset about being accused of duplicity. (Duplicity, seriously? Were you watching Black Adder?). That I was "waving past events of gruesome barbarity" was darkly amusing, and something that I'll try not to dignify.

#14 I totally agree with you. I still did not get where was the offense in the satanic versesand to be honest I am not sure I understood the book well... Others were largely better. But maybe I would have never read any book from S. Rushdie without the fatwa.

This delay is such a pain. Nnnng.

mndarwinist: I've never been a fan of Zia and his kin, and no one in my family is. When I mentioned Zia, it was hardly in a positive manner. If that's who it came across, sorry about that. And as for the apostate thing, I'm apparently persona non grata in some parts of the family due to my atheism, hehe. : P

I do find the fact that no Muslim has ever come out and denounced this barbaric rule disconcerting. That is why I am somehow skeptical of the term "moderate Muslim".

Though I do think that my parents could fall under the "moderate muslim" category, I agree with you about no one coming out. It's troubling, and it gives ammunition to the religious lobbies, in keeping Pakistan in the Dark Ages.

By the way Mr. Jinnah build a country based solely on religious identity(no other distinctions exist between Indians and Pakistanis. Language, yes, but there are other many other languages spoken on the subcontinent). So is it so surprising that it could get more radicalized with time?

Part of me is an idealist, but yeah, it's no surprise whatsoever. C'est la vie. Kinda glad my Pakistani passport (I'm a dual national) expired.

Nat/#37,

I think that you weren't the only one who wasn't sure as to why it was offensive.

The claim that no muslim spoke out against the fatwa issued against Rushdie is not true. Zaki Badawi for one did just that. He also offered an invitation to Rushdie for Rushdie to move in with him in order to send a message that whilst he did not agree with what Rushdie had written he supported Rushdie's right to say it.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

If we are to have a free world, and if Muslims are to be part of it, then they will have to learn to deal with blasphemy. This may be a small step in their learning. Remember it was not so long go we could put people into jail for blasphemy.
There is nothing about religion that should give it respect or a free ride. Any God/Prophet/Religion that cannot handle humor and blasphemy is brittle and weak. It seems to me those that rise up in anger over this sort of stuff are insulting their Gods and prophets with their attitude.
Nandan, my sympathies about your neighbours. Your country has been trying to educate the USA about the facts of life, but they will not listen. On the other hand it might have been better if you had not been the first to mess with nuclear weapons, which, as a long term consequence, are now flowing into fundamentalist Arab nations.

No one here claims that all Muslims are bad, only that their religion is even stupider then average. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy.

If we are to have a free world, and if Muslims are to be part of it, then they will have to learn to deal with blasphemy.

One of the problems with any religion, including Islam, is that once you take them out of the time period and geography in which they first arose, they're useless, and don't make sense. Take the sacrificing of goats during Eid. The whole "sacrifice your laddy, get into heaven free!"/get rid of your sins (this depends on who you ask) always did seem a bit mean. As Lewis Black would say, that OT god was a bit of a prick, non?

To this day, my family (the moderate muslims I'd mentioned, I know I know) haven't been able to explain this. Mind you, they still haven't figured out how for 4 years the goat was about to bite through that chain...*innocent whistle*

....bloody eyepatch.

I meant to write "the goat was able to bite through"

What HM's Envoy would have said if Britannia still ruled the waves:

"I'm very pleased that you've made your views on the matter clear. Her Majesty wishes me to inform you that if a single British subject is harmed as a result of your incitement, you can say goodbye to Karachi and Islamabad, and all the land they stand on, for the next ten thousand years."

I can see that bloodthirsty Admiral, Sir John "Jacky" Fisher uttering these words, with the nuclear release codes already entered and his finger on the button. He would do it, and the fruitcakes in Pakistan would have known that he would do it. They would have backed down.

By Justin Moretti (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Actually, I think threatening to nuke millions for secular (imperial? macho?) reasons is as deplorable as doing it for religious reasons.

I cannot quite see how threatening a country with having millions of its citizens killed is going to make that country behave more reasonably, especially when that country has nuclear weapons of its own. Making people do things by threatening violence is seldom productive.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Adnan,

As a Christian-raised, now-atheist white American guy, whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by simple-minded, stereotypical depictions of Muslims and Pakistanis, I head over to The Hotspot Online and spend a few hours surfing the horror movie reviews and pop ephemera archives. I also recommend the site to people who seem to suffer from cultural myopia about the region.

It may not be exactly the image of Pakistan you'd choose to promote, but it certainly counters the dominant narrative you see in the Western media.

Now I may have got a little confused somewhere but is not Pakistan one those countries that Bush and Blair claim to be on our side in the fight against terrorism ?

That's called the Our Son of a Bitch Principle.

I do find the fact that no Muslim has ever come out and denounced this barbaric rule disconcerting. That is why I am somehow skeptical of the term "moderate Muslim".

It should be mentioned that Sunni Islam not only lacks a central authority but does not even have anything similar to a clergy. The closest thing to an authority seem to be the theologians of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, but they can't claim to speak for everyone either. It's not Catholicism where "Roma locuta, causa finita" (Rome has spoken, the case is closed).

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Now I may have got a little confused somewhere but is not Pakistan one those countries that Bush and Blair claim to be on our side in the fight against terrorism ?

They is helpin' us find that bad, bad man, Osama.

Call me stupid but how friendly is a government which a member of comes out call essentially says a suicide bombing would be justified ?

My momma alwus tole me 'Stupid is as stupid does'.

They would have backed down.

Really? MAD works with communists, but with True Believers? Understand that for a True Believer blasphemy is not a mere matter of life and death.

Such a True Believer is not even required to believe in a religion, BTW. Remember "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" and the Stalinist suicide bombers of the PKK.

Deterrence only works with people who think death is the worst of all possible outcomes.

*innocent whistle*

:-D Congratulations!

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

HP: The Hot Spot kicks ass. The fellas behind it - who also run the Hot Spot ice-cream joint - have also finished filming a B-movie horror flick.

*A tear of pride runs down a cheek*

OK, the Pakistanis have finally convinced me. I just have to read The Satanic Verses. Maybe I can get my book club to read it.

I'd say it's actually not bad. Bit of a slog in places. Crazy lively in others. Tho' I would, actually, concur with those who'd say Midnight's Children is the better book, overall. That said, somehow, knowing the controversy, The Satanic Verses actually cracked me up, a few times, harder than anything else he's ever written. I sorta came to these moments, thought, 'yep... this must be one of the places that's got 'em so riled', and somehow, it was that much funnier, for that. Satire you already knew had hit its mark, and hard, and that gives it a little something special.

I also really, really liked Shalimar the Clown, one of his more recent... I think it was just that it seemed lighter, more directed, more 'let's get this story told with a little economy' than a lot of Rushdie has been.

Fun fact for the day, for your book club discussion, if you do read it, though it may already be widely known: the story of the satanic verses is an old tradition, first appears in some of the oldest Arab histories/stories of the life of Mohammed. It's a bit in which the prophet is said to have added a few verses to the Koran, apparently at the suggestion of Satan, to mollify some irritable heathens, by saying their gods were basically okay... longer story is Googleable. Long story short: it gets folks upset because it poses unsettling questions about the accuracy of the supposedly divinely inspired/inerrant Koran, among other things... (among them, I suspect: it does rather make out the prophet to be a bit of a savvy political player and manipulator, not above faking a 'revelation' to solve an immediate and pressing political problem... also, probably, not an implication with which some of the devout are going to be terribly comfortable). Bringing this story up wasn't Rushdie's only 'offense'... but I shouldn't go giving it all away, should I?

My favorite Rushdie book is on The Wizard of Oz, his favorite movie which inspired him at an early age to expand his imagination. I've read three or four of his books, which can get heavy, but he is a great writer.

And the Minister for Religious Affairs supports suicide bombers in response. Hmmm..... the "Religion of Peace" demonstrates its pacifist side again?

Matt Penfield #47:

I cannot quite see how threatening a country with having millions of its citizens killed is going to make that country behave more reasonably, especially when that country has nuclear weapons of its own. Making people do things by threatening violence is seldom productive.

The funny thing is, this could easily be understood if one imagined Pakistan making such a threat to Britain. Would the British back down, or would they respond in kind? Where does this stunning lack of empathy, this inability to understand that your opponent is more similar to you than they are different, come from?

Where does this stunning lack of empathy, this inability to understand that your opponent is more similar to you than they are different, come from?

Kin selection, ethnic nepotism, xenophobia, Infidelity. Shake well. Serve hot.

Oops - I forgot Nationalism. Nationalism makes the mixture more robust.

Anyway, if you want dangerously insane you don't want the Pakistanis, at least not most of them. You want the Pushtun in the `tribal areas' in the north of the country, and in Afghanistan. The Economist had an eye-watering long article on Pushtunwali, the code they live under. It's sort of like you'd expect an honour code to be if it had had a chance to undergo several thousand years of positive feedback: extreme emphasis placed on hospitality, sure, but also on extreme violence (not just killing the perceived offender but at times the offender's entire extended family, although this is `considered excessive' when merely killing the closest male relation to the person you can't reach is possible: hello, blood feud).

(There's a lot more to it, but the honour/revenge part is the truly poisonous part.)

Nix: Indeed.

Please allow me once again to draw your attentions to the story of Mukhtaran Bibi

First I want to thank everyone for basically calling all Pakistanis loonies, and letting mild racism shine through.

First, criticizing behavior which a majority of the members of a given culture either active engage in, or tacitly approve of, is not "racist."

Second, for the Pakistanis who aren't loonies, and you resent being lumped in with the loonies because you're allowing the loonies to run your country, there's a very simple solution.

PZ said: "I do not want my grandchildren to grow up in that kind of religious world."

Be careful what you wish for. If we have "that kind of religious world," your grandchildren (and everyone else's) may not get to grow up.

Calling all Pakistanis loony isn't racism, it's anti-nationalism.

You'd understand that if you weren't so very loony.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

I hope our Commisioner gives a two word answer the second of which is 'off'.

i hoped we wouldn't re-elect, i hoped there wouldn't be any bombings after 9/11 in London, i hoped Blair wouldn't open any more faith schools and i hoped i'd be able to have proper debates with the religious...

i don't think hope is gonna get us anywhere here, folks.

Lepht

And look what Pakistan did to their only Nobel Laureate -- and the only Muslim Nobel Laureate to date.

Physicist Abdus Salam, who got a Nobel Prize in Physics for helping to work out electroweak unification.

He was an Ahmadi Muslim, however, and Ahmadis are officially heretics in Pakistan.

So though he is buried there, he is not exactly being celebrated as a national hero.

By Loren Petrich (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

Adnan Y (13, 36, &c) & Mndarwinst (#34):
Can we convince PZ to carry a reference to a site where the raised-Muslim secular (Atheist, skeptic, freethinker, Humanist, Deist &c)hold forth? I'm of the secular Jewish family. I don't want a popular "anti-Muslim" culture amongst Dominionist Christians here that thinks that shooting a Pakistani taxi driver is "doing God's work". Show people what that person fled from! The idiots in this administration fired Arabic &c translators because they were a "lesbian cell". The definitions of "manhood" that I see from some ME cultures would turn me to Lesbos too- if I were female.
A vote for understanding and real defence of the Enlightenment; not hate or Imperial injustice.

Oh, come on PZ: "I think I've found a country where religious kooks who run it are crazier and dumber than our American leaders."

What about Iran, whose insane government started all this, with the fatwah against Salman, in the first place?

By G. Tingey (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

I'll tell you one thing, though. I may not have read any of his books, but Rushdie's wife makes me want to Ijaz ul-Haq all over myself.

#70: And she writes cookbooks, too!

I think the problem with the Satanic Verses was not so much its depiction of Mohammed (controversial, but not particularly heinous), but rather its depiction of the Ayatollah Khomenei - it showed him as scheming, callous, cowardly, hypocritical etc. Hence the fatwa.

For those interested in the book, I think it's excellent - one of his best. The general thrust of it is an analysis of the types of ideas (or ideologies) - hard and inflexible vs soft and malleable. The mohammed story is an exemplification of the choice.

To those who have read the Satanic Verses and are puzzled about why it was so offensive, I have a pet theory...

A monstrously evil character in one of Gibreel Farishta's nightmares was an Islamic cleric with a frown of disapproval so potent that it made pictures slide down off of walls in shame. When the Satanic Verses was published, the Iranian revolution was still recent news. Anybody familiar with it would recognize easily, from the biographical information Rushdie provided about the monster in Farishta's nightmare, what real-life person the monster most resembled: the very man who later issued the fatwa against Rushdie.

By David Canzi (not verified) on 20 Jun 2007 #permalink

So has anyone written a Satanic Verses for Westerners book yet? It is becoming clear from the comments here that a great deal of its impact is hidden from casual readers outside the culture.

By JohnnieCanuck, FCD (not verified) on 20 Jun 2007 #permalink

I just saw this reported on Yahoo UK News attributed to Reuters ... is this for real? Our Foreign Secretary states that the Knighthood for SR is to honour people of the muslim faith? This is the guy who pretty much offended every muslim on the planet, is an apostate and (according to Wiki at least) is "Avowedly secular, Rushdie is a self-described atheist. He is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association." No wonder they're pissed at us - apparently our own government still thinks he's a practicing muslim ...

Home Secretary John Reid said the right to free speech was "of over-riding political value", while Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett called the award by the Queen part of a trend of honouring Muslims in the British community.

and ...

In London, Beckett told a news conference the award to Rushdie "is part of the pattern, that people who are members of the Muslim faith are very much part of our whole, wider community ... and they receive honours in this country in just the same way as any other citizen."

You just can't make this stuff up ...

"Avowedly secular, Rushdie is a self-described atheist. He is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association."

Ah, you see, he's not really an atheist, he just thinks he is.

I think I've found a country where religious kooks who run it are crazier and dumber than our American leaders. In some ways, it's a little reassuring. In others ... it's obvious that America is heading down the same road Pakistan is on. I do not want my grandchildren to grow up in that kind of religious world.

I'm reminded of a talking-head's query: why don't progressives denounce the behavior of the terrorists instead of the Bush Administration? The correct response, that I haven't seen yet, is that the Bush Administration has done far worse in Iraq alone than the "terrorists" have done anywhere. Had they succeeded in Iraq, that would only have encouraged new Bush Administration invasions.

I wonder if the car firebombs in the UK recently have any connection with this? I know the MSM is already linking supposed Al Qaida ties but the Pakistanis quoted definitely gave this a greenlight. This unmistakably highlights that religion is supremely capable of mocking itself. And every practioner exempts their own mythology from any critical examination. The key point made was there is no imperative whatsoever that religion (anyone's) be "respected." Tolerance of belief and non-belief/unbelief is a wholly different matter.

By LanceThruster (not verified) on 06 Jul 2007 #permalink

Now I may have got a little confused somewhere but is not Pakistan one those countries that Bush and Blair claim to be on our side in the fight against terrorism ?

That's called the Our Son of a Bitch Principle.

I do find the fact that no Muslim has ever come out and denounced this barbaric rule disconcerting. That is why I am somehow skeptical of the term "moderate Muslim".

It should be mentioned that Sunni Islam not only lacks a central authority but does not even have anything similar to a clergy. The closest thing to an authority seem to be the theologians of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, but they can't claim to speak for everyone either. It's not Catholicism where "Roma locuta, causa finita" (Rome has spoken, the case is closed).

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink

They would have backed down.

Really? MAD works with communists, but with True Believers? Understand that for a True Believer blasphemy is not a mere matter of life and death.

Such a True Believer is not even required to believe in a religion, BTW. Remember "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" and the Stalinist suicide bombers of the PKK.

Deterrence only works with people who think death is the worst of all possible outcomes.

*innocent whistle*

:-D Congratulations!

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Jun 2007 #permalink