As demonstrations continue in the Muslim world against Britain’s’ decision to honour controversial author Salman Rushdie with a knighthood, Iran has summoned the UK ambassador in Tehran to protest. There have been angry scenes in the streets of Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia and other countries.
Rushdie is a hate-figure for many Muslims because of his book, the Satanic Verses, which they regard as insulting to Islam. Authorities in Pakistan claim Britain’s tribute to him could play into the hands of extremists. The country’s Religious Affairs Minister, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, said: “In spite of the fact that we’re cooperating, we’re collaborating, we are suffering in the ‘war on terror’, and here you are, I’m sorry to say, but here is the West putting fuel on the fire whenever there is an opportunity.”
Pakistan’s parliament has passed a resolution censuring Britain over the the knighthood, which was given as part of a list of honours to mark Queen Elizabeth’s official 81st birthday celebrations. Rushdie spent a decade in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni issued a ‘fatwah’ or death sentence on him in 1981. He is now once again in the eye of the storm.