David Aaronovitch in the Times (£):
The week that Salman Rushdie’s memoir of the events leading up to the threats on his life and his years “on the run” is published seems a good time to ask whether we can really carry on like this. According to many, we cannot discuss Islam, depict it or write about it except in certain very circumscribed ways without causing mortal offence.
This is despite the fact that it plays a far bigger role in our lives in countries such as Britain than it did 30 years ago. And worse, in a world where the mobility of communication outstrips the mobility of understanding, we are now at hazard of “global Muslim anger” every time a bongo-brain in a Moosejaw shed uploads an idiocy involving something Islamic.
Of course, there are elaborate explanations for this situation that seek to place the blame for what seems to be impossible behaviour by some Muslims on to just about anyone else. One that I thought was worth bringing to readers’ attention is from the Islam convert and scholar Myriam Francois- Cerrah. It was published by The Huffington Post and others last week. [Here - also see this - MH]
What Ms Francois-Cerrah argues is that the bonkers film “was the straw that broke the camel’s back”. So not the film after all. Not the cartoons. Not The Satanic Verses. “Broken by poverty,” she writes, “threatened by drones, caught in the war between al-Qaeda and the US, to many Arab Muslims the film represents an attack on the last shelter of dignity — sacred beliefs — when all else has been desecrated ... When your country has been bombed, you’ve lost friends and family, possibly your livelihood and home, dignity is pretty much all you have left ... These protests aren’t about a film — they’re about the totality of ways in which Muslims have felt humiliated over decades.”
Who bombed the Sydney Muslims who fought the Aussie police last week? What drones threatened the Tunisian Islamists who attacked a school? What American deprived a Libyan militiaman of dignity? How did poverty force the Qataris to protest against a video? Why don’t Cambodian Buddhists burn Korans in retaliation for the blasting of the Bamiyan Buddhas? Why has no Muslim leader in my experience ever, ever, ever mentioned how the British and Americans saved Muslims in Kosovo from genocide?
Of course Muslims are not the only people whose leaders harness and exploit the reactionary emotional power of grievance. But the idea of “global Muslim anger” relies on the seductive trick of placing yourself always in the position of the done-to and not the doing, even when you run a quarter of the countries on the planet. It’s not global anger. It’s global adolescence.
See Salman Rushdie's fascinating BBC interview with Alan Yentob here - where it all started.