The Crime of Blasphemy

Friday, February 13, 2009

Transcript

Twenty years ago this week, the Ayatollah Khomeini called for the death of author Salman Rushdie for insulting Islam in his book The Satanic Verses. Rushdie's lawyer Geoffrey Robertson gave Rushdie a place to hide out in those days and defended Rushdie against the crime of blasphemy. Robertson reflects back on that time.

Comments [5]

Dr. Jill Schaeffer from upstate New York

I was located in Geneva, Switzerland during the fatwah against Rushdie and wanted to buy The Satanic Verses. So I entered Naville book store, then near Lac Leman, and the clerk silently conducted me downstairs to the cellar where he retrieved a copy of The Satanic Verses, placed it in a paper bag and wordlessly conducted me back upstairs to the cashier. Well, I thought, and still think, if this is what religion is all about - the sooner gone the better.

Aug. 29 2009 09:52 AM
Matthew Trisler from Memphis, TN

Hey Bob, Brooke, OTM/WNYC staff: I'm trying to write my OTM Recap for radio-sweethearts.com here, and I want to write about how I had a bad Valentines's Day, but how it wasn't THAT bad, and how I love Salman Rushdie.

The problem is that you've got the wrong story posted. I'll see if I can quickly find the story in the podcast, but I'm just a little bummed that it's not here.

I remember the day the Fatwa was issued. I remember just thinking it odd that an author was making the headlines because people wanted to kill him. I would have been in kindergarten or the first grade, so - let's be honest here - I didn't have the best understanding of religious tensions, and it was only two years ago that I read _The Satanic Verses_, but I believe that this particular moment, where art and intellectualism were so clearly set against easily offended sensibilities and religious extremism, was a particularly formative moment as concerns my worldview.

The remembrance of Rushdie and the Fatwa against him kept me, even at the height of my religious fervor in high school and college, from ever making one move towards another human in intolerance; it kept me from being so easily offended by jokes about and parodies of religious figures I held dear - especially when they were good jokes and parodies.

Rushdie serves as a very effective reminder of the power of literature - popular or religious, and the conflicts that can arise between them, should minds not be open enough to explore the real possibility that one might gain insight about one from listening to the other.

Also, I love you guys.

Feb. 15 2009 11:56 PM
Joe Wright from Stratford, CT

My understanding is that a fatwah, which is really just a religious opinion by a Muslim cleric, expires when the cleric who issues it passes away. The one exception seems to be the fatwahs of Ayatolah Ruhola Khomeini, who's successor gave him this extended, posthumous authority through another fatwah. Theoretically, Khomeini's special clout will die when the one who gave it to him dies...
Joe Wright, Stratford, Ct

Feb. 15 2009 07:46 AM
Joe Wright from Stratford, CT

My understanding is that a fatwah, which is really just a religious opinion by a Muslim cleric, expires when the cleric who issues it passes away. The one exception seems to be the fatwahs of Ayatolah Ruhola Khomeini, who's successor gave him this extended, posthumous authority through another fatwah. Theoretically, Khomeini's special clout will die when the one who gave it to him dies...
Joe Wright, Stratford, Ct

Feb. 15 2009 07:46 AM
Brendan Keefe from Rochester, NY

You've got the wrong audio segment embedded here. (It's the Gerson piece.)

Feb. 14 2009 02:53 PM

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