Palestine, Short Skirts, Pork & Kissing [Part II]

Here is Part I of excerpts from an excellent interview with Salman Rushdie from 2006. Below is Part II. Please make a note of the parts I’ve bolded, in particular. The full article is here.

“When people ask me how the West should adapt to Muslim sensitivities, I always say – the question is the wrong way round. The West should go on being itself….”

“But you see it every day, this surrender,” he says. He runs through a list of the theatres and galleries that have censored themselves in the face of religious fundamentalist protests. He mentions that the entire British media – from the BBC down – placed itself in purdah during the Mohammed cartoons episode. “What I fear most is that, when we look back in 25 years’ time at this moment, what we will have seen is the surrender of the West, without a shot being fired. They’ll say that in the name of tolerance and acceptance, we tied our own hands and slit our own throats. One of the things that have made me live my entire life in these countries is because I love the way people live here.”

Rushdie sees surrender stamped on every one of the “faith schools” being constructed by Tony Blair. “To say the solution to the problems religion has caused is more religion… it’s just crazy,” he says. It will only reinforce the sealing off of Muslims from the world that is symbolised by the veil, which he sees as a hideous anti-feminist shroud, “a one-woman tent”.

[On false idealism] I do think that someone in the name of virtue can do terrible damage, for entirely virtuous reasons. But I’ve never seen great power as having a moral dimension.”

That, too, is Rushdie’s message in this fight between the democratic-Muslim ideals of his grandfather and the psychotic-Muslim delusions of his assassins. It is a fight between people who want to open the universe a little more, and those who want to shrivel the universe into the stultified vision of one book and one man who lived in a desert more than a millennium ago.

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