Rushdie knighthood condemned


Summary

Both Iran and Pakistan have condemned Britain's decision to grant a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie.

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Mr Rushdie was forced into hiding for a decade after the Islamic republic's spiritual leader ordered his assassination.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the decision to grant Britain's highest honour to Mr Rushdie, who wrote the controversial novel The Satanic Verses, was an insult to the Muslim world.

"Awarding a person who is among the most detested characters in the Islamic society is obvious proof of anti-Islamism by ranking British officials," said Mr Hosseini during his weekly press conference today.

Mr Rushdie went into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his novel The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam.

Valentine's card

The Iranian government declared in 1998 that it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa. Mr Rushdie says he receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year on February 14 letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to end his life.

"This (award) showed that the movement of insulting Muslims was not accidental but was a planned and organised move that enjoyed support of some Western countries," said Mr Hosseini.

Pakistan's parliament has echoed the reaction, unanimously condemning Salman Rushdie's knighthood and calling for the title to be withdrawn on the grounds that it offends Muslims.

"This house strongly condemns the title of Sir awarded to Salman Rushdie," parliamentary affairs minister Sher Afgan said, reading the resolution passed by Pakistan's lower house, the national assembly.

"We demand from Britain to refrain from such acts which hurt the sentiments of Muslims and take back the title of Sir given to Rushdie," Afgan said.

' Islamophobia '

The resolution added that the award would encourage "contempt" for the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran on Saturday accused British leaders of "Islamophobia" for knighting Rushdie. An Irani foreign ministry spokesman said honouring the "hated apostate" was part of a western campaign against Muslims.

Five people died in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in 1989 in riots against Mr Rushdie's book. Pakistan is an Islamic republic, like neighbouring Iran, and its 160 million population is overwhelmingly Muslim.

"Western countries call for inter-faith harmony but let no chance pass to hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world," said Liaquat Baloch, the parliamentary leader of Pakistan's main alliance of Islamic parties.

Mr Baloch asked the government of President Pervez Musharraf, a key western ally, to lodge a "strong protest" with the British government over the honour for Rushdie.

Opposition lawmakers brought up Pakistan's role in the "war on terror," saying that Britain and the United States had no regard for Islamabad despite its help in fighting extremism.

"Those who are awarding the title of Sir to Rushdie are allies of our government, but look at the steps they are taking," said Khawaja Asif, the parliamentary leader of exiled premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

'Richly deserved'

The British High Commission (embassy) in Islamabad defended the decision to bestow the knighthood on Rushdie.

"Sir Salman's honour is richly deserved and the reasons for it are self-explanatory," said spokesman Aidan Liddle.

Mr Rushdie's second novel, "Midnight's Children," won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981 and was named the best novel in 25 years of the prize in 1993.

He is also a fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Literature.


Both Iran and Pakistan have condemned Britain's decision to grant a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie.

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Mr Rushdie was forced into hiding for a decade after the Islamic republic's spiritual leader ordered his assassination.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the decision to grant Britain's highest honour to Mr Rushdie, who wrote the controversial novel The Satanic Verses, was an insult to the Muslim world.

"Awarding a person who is among the most detested characters in the Islamic society is obvious proof of anti-Islamism by ranking British officials," said Mr Hosseini during his weekly press conference today.

Mr Rushdie went into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his novel The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam.

Valentine's card

The Iranian government declared in 1998 that it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa. Mr Rushdie says he receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year on February 14 letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to end his life.

"This (award) showed that the movement of insulting Muslims was not accidental but was a planned and organised move that enjoyed support of some Western countries," said Mr Hosseini.

Pakistan's parliament has echoed the reaction, unanimously condemning Salman Rushdie's knighthood and calling for the title to be withdrawn on the grounds that it offends Muslims.

"This house strongly condemns the title of Sir awarded to Salman Rushdie," parliamentary affairs minister Sher Afgan said, reading the resolution passed by Pakistan's lower house, the national assembly.

"We demand from Britain to refrain from such acts which hurt the sentiments of Muslims and take back the title of Sir given to Rushdie," Afgan said.

' Islamophobia '

The resolution added that the award would encourage "contempt" for the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran on Saturday accused British leaders of "Islamophobia" for knighting Rushdie. An Irani foreign ministry spokesman said honouring the "hated apostate" was part of a western campaign against Muslims.

Five people died in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in 1989 in riots against Mr Rushdie's book. Pakistan is an Islamic republic, like neighbouring Iran, and its 160 million population is overwhelmingly Muslim.

"Western countries call for inter-faith harmony but let no chance pass to hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world," said Liaquat Baloch, the parliamentary leader of Pakistan's main alliance of Islamic parties.

Mr Baloch asked the government of President Pervez Musharraf, a key western ally, to lodge a "strong protest" with the British government over the honour for Rushdie.

Opposition lawmakers brought up Pakistan's role in the "war on terror," saying that Britain and the United States had no regard for Islamabad despite its help in fighting extremism.

"Those who are awarding the title of Sir to Rushdie are allies of our government, but look at the steps they are taking," said Khawaja Asif, the parliamentary leader of exiled premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

'Richly deserved'

The British High Commission (embassy) in Islamabad defended the decision to bestow the knighthood on Rushdie.

"Sir Salman's honour is richly deserved and the reasons for it are self-explanatory," said spokesman Aidan Liddle.

Mr Rushdie's second novel, "Midnight's Children," won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981 and was named the best novel in 25 years of the prize in 1993.

He is also a fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Literature.