Jerry Thomas comments on the Salman Rushdie controversy and the conflict in the Middle East, Palestine. He meets an imaginary Muslim and journalists to discuss these issues and explains how he was clearly defeated in arguments by both.
The other day I was carried by the night from the furthest of my house to the precincts of humanity to see things which are strange and instructive. It was almost in the middle of the night, I started hearing the sound of blasts and riots. I heard people shouting “death to Jack, death to Jack”. Then I thought if it is about beheading and rioting, then it must be the people from the religion of peace.
Having so thought, I began my journey in the night. And I met one of the moderate rioters. I went near to him and asked him the new cause for the ignition of perpetual outrage.
He shouted at me: “Do you know who this Salman Rushdie is?”
I said: “I personally do not know him but have heard and read about him”.
Without waiting for my answer, he shot the next question: “Has he masterminded hijacks or plotted any bomb blast?”
I said: “No”.
Then he raised his voice and asked: “Has he planned any suicide attacks or at least called for one?”
I replied: “No way! He will never do any of those.”
He looked at me and said: “There you are. Then what are his accomplishments? Why he should be knighted? Is Sami ul Haq, leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and parliamentarian in Pakistan wrong in saying that Osman Bin Laden should given the title sir?" (You can read the news here).
I was dumbfounded by the logic of this argument for sometime. Slowly, I recovered from this argument.
Then I asked him: “Sir, earlier John Elton who criticized Christianity and wanted it to be banned was knighted. But Christians did not say ‘death to John Elton, death to United Kingdom’. Is not God the judge? Why should we judge and condemn people?"
He refuted me immediately: “Allah is the most gracious and most merciful (Surah 1:1). Behead all the pagans and critics of Islam (Surah 9:5). Did not Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) kill all the poets and poetess who criticized him? Did not our brothers slay the Van Gogh who criticized Islam? Why should we exempt Salman Rushdie then? Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is our model (Surah 33:21). Allah knows the best”.
I was completely defeated by this argument.
So I continued my journey and met a few journalists. I asked them the reasons for the current problems in the Muslim world.
The moment I asked they starred at me and with one voice they said: “Western Extremists are pushing the moderate Jihadis to violence”.
I was surprised.
So I thought I will put a tough question to them.
“Tell me”, I asked “how do you explain the current conflict in Palestine?”
“The drivers of violence in Gaza are clearly external. When all Palestinians can vote for sovereign rule, peace will be within reach” said Karma Nabulsi for The Hindu.
I protested: "Is not the Palestinians themselves who elected the Hamas. You are clearly ignoring facts.”
The Boston Globe editorial writer refuted me: “They long suffered from Israel's suffocating occupation, and then from Ariel Sharon's foolishly unilateral withdrawal in 2005, a move that allowed Hamas to bid for power with the misleading claim that its rockets and suicide bombings had driven Israeli soldiers and settlers out of Gaza.” (Boston Globe, June 14, 2007).
I answered back: But when Benjamin Netanyahu resigned from the Cabinet in 2005 protesting against the withdrawal, you criticized him and wrote, “But to argue, as Benjamin Netanyahu did in resigning from the Cabinet, that disengagement from Gaza would cre
ate ''a giant base for terrorism" is to argue that there should never be a two-state solution to the conflict. Denying Palestinians a homeland has been counterproductive for both peoples. Denying them even the hope of a homeland would be a road map to war everlasting” (Boston Globe, August 13, 2005). What do you say now?
They said to me: “You are a crusader. You are a conservative bigot. You always offend people and can never be sensitive. Ignorant extremists like you are a curse to the world.”
This time, I was thoroughly refuted and defeated. I returned to my home wishing that all these things were just a dream. And it is not Friday yet. Happy Friday.