against British author Salman Rushdie
TORONTO - The Muslim Canadian Congress has condemned the new
death threats being leveled against the British author
Salman Rushdie by Al-Qaeda and government officials in
Pakistan and Iran.
Sohail Raza, the communications director of the MCC said, "whereas we Muslims respect and adore our Prophet and Mr. Rushdie has hurt our feelings, we must at the same time defend his right and of all writers to express their opinions without fear. There is nothing in the Quran that permits anyone, whether they are Ministers, Ayatollahs or Al-Qaeda leaders, to take the law into their hands and issues fatwas
or edicts of death."
Raza was reacting to a statement by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri warning Britain of consequences for awarding Rushdie a knighthood. Earlier Pakistani politicians and clerics said killing Salman Rushdie was justified under Islam. "Whether it is Al-Qaeda, Pakistani politicians, Iranian Ayatollahs, or Kuwaiti legislators, people uttering death threats exhibit an inherent contempt for free speech and a arrogant lack of understanding of the concept of compassion, which is the essence of Islam," he added.
Raza said he believed that had Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) been alive today, he himself would have defended the right of authors like Salman Rushdie to pursue their literary work.
In issuing the statement, the MCC is reiterating its stance to uphold freedom of expression. The right to free speech and literary expression must be recognized as one of the foundations of a free society. If anyone is offended by Rushdie, the response should be a written critique of his work, not a call for his killing.
The MCC believes that the tendency of Islamists to blow every issue out of proportion lies in their feeling of insecurity. For no other religion feels itself under siege the way some Islamists have positioned Islam. "Such reactions are a mockery of Islam. Certainly there can be intellectual challenges to Rushdie's views on Islam, but issuing death threats and fatwas do no service to Islam or Prophet Muhammad," Raza added.