writers is the most
loathsome form of censorship. But that’s exactly what Iran’s
Ayatollah Khomeini is trying to do with his three million dollar bounty
on Indian author
Rushdie’s head. Khomeini and other ruling Iranian clerics
object to the
irreverent depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in Rushdie’s new novel, The Satanic Verses.
the bounty is already
having its effect. India,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other nations have banned
Rushdie’s novel. Weak-kneed publishers in France,
West Germany, Greece
and Turkey decided not to publish it.
Waldenbooks has pulled “The
Satanic Verses” off its shelves in the United States. Employees’
lives may be in danger, a
Waldenbooks official said.
waves are only beginning.
an author somewhere is
now having second thoughts about writing about that controversial or
which he or she fears could just be “harmful to ones health.”
some authors will turn
to safer and perhaps less relevant subjects.
is to suffer from this
diabolical form of censorship that stifles serious exploration and
of important issues or entertaining and creative literature.
threat to free expression
of ideas must be resisted by freedom-loving people.
will take courage.
clerics say they ordered
Rushdie and his publisher killed because “The Satanic Verses” is offensive
Islam. What irony since their bounty is catapulting the novel
onto best seller
lists and ensuring further “offense” to Islam.
the novel be more offensive
than the murderous tack it has provoked? Furthermore, the
bounty could be viewed as appealing to the same baser motivations of
capitalism that Iran’s
Islamic religious government says it deplores so much.
by death threat is also
an insult to the kinder among the 540 million practitioners of
Tragically, it increases misunderstandings about one of the world’s
giving into kidnappers’
demands puts others into jeopardy by increasing the number of
will giving into this deadly attempt at censorship put other writers at
Indeed, it puts freedom of speech and relevant and creative literature
effort should be made to
protect would-be victims of Iran’s
irrationals who apparently want to control even the ideas outside their
the sword become mightier
than the pen? The Daily Herald
Giving into this type of violent censorship means even more writers and
freedom of expression will become its unfortunate victims.
version of this editorial appeared in the Daily Herald, Provo, Utah
Update since I wrote this editorial: The
uproar over The Satanic Verses continued
and there were deaths, although not Rushdie's. Five people were
killed in Islamabad by police during a protest over the novel. A
dozen protesters were killed in a protest at the British Embassy in
Bombay. Rushdie's Japanese translator was stabbed to death in
Tokyo. His Norwegian publisher was shot and severely injured in
Oslo. His Italian translator was beaten and stabbed in Milan. The
UC Berkley book store was firebombed for carrying "The Satanic Verses." Rushdie
was burned in effigy in many places worldwide, and there were many book
burnings. The musician known as Cat Stevens who
converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam agreed with the
death sentence but later said it should be ordered by a court in an
Islamic country. A bounty remains on Rushdie's head.