Sunday, June 17, 2007

Iran condemns honour for 'apostate' Rushdie

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, today criticised the British government for its decision to honour Salman Rushdie with a knighthood. Hosseini told a press conference:

"Giving a medal to someone who is among the most detested figures in the Islamic community is... a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials. The measure that has taken place for paying tribute to this apostate and detested figure will definitely put British statesmen and officials at odds with Islamic societies, the emotions and sentiments of which have again been provoked."

What can we make of this intervention? Firstly, it is unclear by what right Iran can claim to comment on the decisions of the British government as to whom it bestows this or that title upon. Rushdie may well be an 'apostate' in the minds of many in the Muslim world but do not the kafirs who number the remainder of the honours lists deserve equal contempt as unbelievers? The whole system must be an affront to Islam if Iran is to be consistent. I should hope in future the Supreme Leader is urgently faxed a provisional honours list for his (for it must be a he) final approval.

The spokesperson claims the honour is "a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials." Indeed, I hope that senior officials are 'anti-Islamism' if we are to understand 'Islamism' as a fundamentalist and minority interpretation of the Koran. I am certainly anti-Islamism and I would hope most people would join me in identifying themselves as such. However, even if this is the implication, and I doubt that it is, bestowing the award on Rushdie is certainly no indication of a such an aversion. Though the Foreign Office chose not to respond directly to the bellicose posturing of the Iranians, it did say only that the award was richly deserved.

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