Salman Rushdie, in Speech, Assails “New Age of Religious Mayhem” October 13, 2014

Salman Rushdie, in Speech, Assails “New Age of Religious Mayhem”

Novelist Salman Rushdie picked up another major literary award (the PEN Pinter Prize) the other day and minced no words about the Islamist ideology that has literally threatened his life for the last quarter-century.

It’s pretty brave, if you ask me. The death threats are ongoing, and yet Rushdie appears in public and speaks out.

Rushdie voiced his fears that the language of “jihadi-cool” is seducing young British Muslims, many via Twitter and YouTube, into joining the “decapitating barbarianism” of Isil, the group also referred to as Islamic State or Isis. …

Rushdie defined “jihadi-cool” as “the deformed medievalist language of fanaticism, backed up by modern weaponry,” saying: “It’s hard not to conclude that this hate-filled religious rhetoric, pouring from the mouths of ruthless fanatics into the ears of angry young men, has become the most dangerous new weapon in the world today.”

Rushdie then had some choice words about the favorite slur of his detractors.

“A word I dislike greatly, ‘Islamophobia’, has been coined to discredit those who point at these excesses, by labelling them as bigots. But in the first place, if I don’t like your ideas, it must be acceptable for me to say so, just as it is acceptable for you to say that you don’t like mine. Ideas cannot be ring-fenced just because they claim to have this or that fictional sky god on their side.

And in the second place, it’s important to remember that most of those who suffer under the yoke of the new Islamic fanaticism are other Muslims… “It is right to feel phobia towards such matters. As several commentators have said, what is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.

I can’t, as a citizen, avoid speaking of the horror of the world in this new age of religious mayhem, and of the language that conjures it up and justifies it, so that young men, including young Britons, led towards acts of extreme bestiality, believe themselves to be fighting a just war.”

The author made sure to say that he won’t give other religions a free ride either.

[M]ore than one religion deserves scrutiny. Christian extremists in the United States today attack women’s liberties and gay rights in language they claim comes from God. Hindu extremists in India today are launching an assault on free expression and trying, literally, to rewrite history, proposing the alteration of school textbooks to serve their narrow saffron dogmatism. But the overwhelming weight of the problem lies in the world of Islam, and much of it has its roots in the ideological language of blood and war emanating from the Salafist movement within Islam, globally backed by Saudi Arabia.”

What really sticks in radical Islam’s craw, Rushdie alleged, is modernity.

“Modernity itself is the enemy — modernity with its language of liberty, for women as well as men, with its insistence of legitimacy in government rather than tyranny, and with its strong inclination towards secularism and away from religion.”

We now are, he said,

… “too frightened of religion in general, and one religion in particular — religion redefined as the capacity of religionists to commit earthly violence in the name of their unearthly sky god… in which the narrow pseudo-explications of religion, couched in the new — or actually very old — vocabulary of blasphemy and offence, have increasingly begun to set the agenda.”

(Image via andersphoto / Shutterstock.com)

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