Salman Rushdie is perceived as one of the most divisive individuals on the planet. For some he is a champion of Free Speech for others he is a pariah. I was a teenager when the Satanic Verses crisis broke. Initially I was perplexed how any one could 'trash their Prophet', since Salman was a born Muslim.
With the benefit of hindsight he was used by Islamists to distract their fellow brethrens attention from the real issues plaguing Muslim societies across the globe such as under-development, corruption, female exploitation and intra communal violence. Salman managed to unite a lot of extremists who would probably have been at each others throats.
I recently read an interview in which he was asked
'You previously wrote 'religion is coming after us all'. What did you mean?
'We're living in a period when religion is politicised. Religion is, to my mind, unexceptional when it's in the private sphere - that’s their business. But when it becomes a public force, it becomes everybody's business. It's just not Islam. If you're in the US, you understand the force of conservative Christianity in that country. In India, you see how violently radical aspects of certain sections of the Hindu religion are becoming. This is trans-cultural and not unique to any religion. What does seem to be of our time is the militancy of religious groups and their groups and their willingness to be violent in defence of what they see as their ideology'.
The above is a deeply penetrating and timely assessment which I totally endorse. Sure Salman is not every Muslims cup of tea however he has no body's blood on his hands.
Today when the reformation of Islam is being hotly debated in London, Washington, Paris and influential think tanks we could have done with Salmans intellectual pedigree and ferocious intellect. Thus after extensive travel, a cosmopolitan education and extensive reading I wish Salman were still in the fold and allowed to keep his views albeit offensive and unabashed atheism.
Ghar ajaa pardesi…Come home stranger…