To Sir, With What?

It is not like any other afternoon, this afternoon of Lahore. We are touching 50 degree Celsius here in the city. By all definitions of the word, it is hot. And me and my friend are on a motorbike, on the sweltering roads going from one place of work to another. The heat itself is enough reason to just sit put and stay quite and count the minutes. It is at this odd time that my friend, while still riding the bike, slightly turn his head and almost shouts out from within the helmet he is wearing, “Hey, do you know Salman Rushdie got the knighthood? Now that saab is a sir, haan?”
It must be the heat.

Salman Rushdie is a great writer and has practically invented a completely new genre of writing. But I am hardly the one who takes art for art’s sake. As far as I am concerned, art without due importance to subject matter is a waste of time and creative energy. But that is just me. This, on the other hand, is about governments.

First off, I think it is wrong. It probably does have a lot to do with the fact that I am a Muslim. Objectivity is assumed but not promised.

The knighthood of Salman Rushdie is wrong on two counts. The first count has to do with the fact that I am Muslim and Rushdie wrote, although in a very creative way, something that is just not my cup of tea. Or any other Muslim’s cup of tea for that matter.

Most Muslims consider Rushdie to be a heretic at best, and then seeing the British government praise him for the very thing that ticked about a billion people off will make it wrong on many fronts. Of course, had the British government awarded him knighthood for services in, say, the field of avionics or any other unrelated field, there wouldn’t have been such a turmoil. And turmoil is not blind to reason.

But awarding Rushdie the knighthood is also wrong from a very ‘secular’ point of view as well.

British being a democracy is already well aware that the most number of people being born in Britain are Muslim. (The name Mohammad is set to overtake James as the most common name in Britain this year). A democratic nation is bound by the choice of its majority and this is really an easy concept to get, right? Maybe the concept of making room for the minorities, starting with the large ones, is hard to grasp — I don’t know.

When people “complained” to the government that this knighthood further alienates an already tense Muslim population in Britain, here’s what the British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett had to say, “This is part of the pattern that people who are members of the Muslim faith are very much part of our whole wider community.” Well, sounds nice, given that Muslims are a large minority in Britain. But the niceness stops right about here.

What she probably forgets is that for most of the Muslim world, Salman Rushdie has ceased to be a Muslim quite some time back. Even if he is considered a Muslim by a large minority of Muslims, even then no one in his right mind supports what he so successfully did. In short, most Muslims think Mr. Rushdie is not a Muslim, or at best he is a very, very bad one. And then the British award him, and then they expect to get away with some talk about a “pattern that includes the Muslim community”? Which Muslims? Which community? Iran (the declared enemy) called the knighthood an “insulting, suspicious and improper act by the British Government in an obvious example of fighting against Islam.” While Pakistan (the declared friend) said that the act had “utter lack of sensitivity.”

Probably they are to include only the British Muslims community, and that would make sense, right? Right. But the same British Muslims that burnt Mr. Rushdie’s book when it came out in 1989 are not the kind of candidates that would, you know, get up and smell the pattern or whatever. Here is a message to the British government; “either tell the Muslims in Britain to leave in these simple terms, or start paying attention to what Muslims hold dear to their hearts.” It is quite simple, really. Come out clean. That is the way it should be.

54 Comments so far

  1. Pretty Simple (unregistered) on June 27th, 2007 @ 8:07 pm


  2. Bushra Ansari (unregistered) on June 27th, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

    Another bongi.. duhhh!!

  3. Pretty Simple (unregistered) on June 27th, 2007 @ 8:18 pm

    lol..after you.

  4. Bushra Ansari (unregistered) on June 27th, 2007 @ 8:22 pm


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