Pakistan’s Parliament condemns Sir Rushdie’s knighthood

From the Guardian:

Pakistani lawmakers passed a government-backed resolution Monday demanding Britain withdraw the knighthood awarded to author Salman Rushdie, condemning the honor as an insult to the religious sentiments of Muslims.

In the eastern city of Multan, hard-line Muslim students burned effigies of Queen Elizabeth II and Rushdie. About 100 students carrying banners condemning the author also chanted, “Kill Him! Kill Him!”

“The ‘sir’ title from Britain for blasphemer Salman Rushdie has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims across the world. Every religion should be respected. I demand the British government immediately withdraw the title as it is creating religious hatred,” Niazi told the National Assembly.

Lawmakers voted unanimously for the resolution although one opposition member, Khwaja Asif, said it exposed a contradiction in the government’s policy as an ally of Britain in the international war on terrorism.

Iran on Sunday also condemned the knighthood for Rushdie.

The British High Commission in Islamabad defended the decision to honor Rushdie – one of the most prominent novelists of the late 20th century whose 13 books have won numerous awards, including the Booker Prize for “Midnight’s Children” in 1981.

“Sir Salman’s honor is richly deserved and the reasons for it are self-explanatory,” said spokesman Aidan Liddle.

Irfan Husain writes in Pakistan’s Daily Times:

The entire furore over the Satanic Verses nearly twenty years ago can be seen as the beginning of the growing divide between the West and the Muslim world. The violent reaction among some Muslims over a work of fiction culminated in a fatwa by Imam Khomeni. This forced Rushdie into hiding for a decade, and confirmed the stereotype of Muslims as being intolerant.

Since then, things have only got worse. Growing militancy among a post-fatwa generation has seen rioting and violence over the slightest ‘western’ provocation. Mobs pour into the streets at the incitement of extremist clerics. Governments in the Muslim world deflect criticism of their incompetence and corruption by encouraging extremism.