As a generally amiable Muslim American, I was surprised to see in Wednesday, June 20, 2007’s paper that I, as a part of the ‘Muslim world’ am supposedly furious. The headline reads: ‘Rushdie, Britain stir Muslim world’s fury’ (Tom Hundley). Granted, I was a little bit grouchy at having to wake up before noon and go to work, and I was also a little perturbed that the El was running slow, but what I wasn’t—definitely wasn’t—was furious. In fact, Mr. Hundley’s article was so surprising to me that I had to read it three times before I realized that I may have some reason to even be bothered by it at all.
The biggest issue that I saw with the article is that it deliberately painted every Muslim who has ever been disappointed by Salman Rushdie’s shameless disrespect for Islam’s final prophet, Muhammad, to be a rage-stricken vigilante with a penchant for flag burning; this is not the case.
Muslims around the world are bothered by what they see as a deliberate provocation by the British government. By knighting Rushdie, a man who went out of his way to write a book implicitly desecrating a religious figure the government is putting an explicit seal of approval on his work. Yet most Muslims such as myself, seek to combat this irresponsibility with constructive criticism as opposed to unbridled fervor. Only a small group of radicals are reported on by the news when there is a larger push by more rational-minded individuals. The outliers are not accurate representations of the majority.
Why is it that critics of Satanic Verses are automatically considered radicals? Germans vehemently taking to the streets at the recent G-8 summit are ‘protestors’ but Pakistanis vehemently taking to the streets are ‘mobs’? As if the endorsement of Rushdie weren’t enough, any criticism of his insensitivity is demeaned as well. When did we become so Islamophobic that we laud people that attempt to defame Islam and excoriate the people who demonstrate in protest? Let us reflect on our thoughts and attitudes towards others and seek ways to build bridges instead of waving our double standard so blindly.