No. Salman Rushdie never “radicalized” anyone. The BBC is saying that it if he hadn’t mocked Muhammad in The Satanic Verses, all these Muslims wouldn’t have turned to jihad. This is the BBC at its most craven and compromised. These jihadis were “radicalized” by the Quran’s exhortations to kill, and Muhammad’s example in killing “blasphemers.” They were “radicalized” by Islamic clerics telling them that Allah would reward them for murdering unbelievers. This is consistent with how I was blamed after jihadis attempted mass murder at my free speech event in Garland, Texas in 2015. Virtually the entire Western media has submitted to sharia blasphemy laws.
“‘Salman Rushdie radicalised my generation,'” by Mobeen Azhar, BBC News, February 14, 2019 (thanks to Vikram):
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It’s Valentine’s day 1989. Margaret Thatcher is prime minister and Kylie, Yazz and Bros are making noise. Far away, Iran’s supreme leader issues a fatwa demanding the death of British author Salman Rushdie – and the effect on young Muslims in the UK is huge.
Alyas Karmani was soaking up everything student life had to offer. He’d grown up in Tooting, south London, in a traditional Pakistani household, his father a bus driver and trade unionist. Religion was an important part of Alyas’s upbringing but not something he was particularly interested in.
“We were obedient to our parents. We’d go to the mosque when it was required but we had a clandestine double-life existence,” he says. “We were partying, smoking weed, going out with girls and doing everything we could possibly do.”
So when it was time to choose a university, Alyas ran away from his Pakistani Muslim identity and headed 400 miles north to Glasgow. “I was running as fast as possible. I was a ‘self-hating Paki’. I didn’t want brown friends. All my friends were white liberal mainstream types. That was my crowd.”
In Glasgow, Alyas would become an important fixture on the student scene. He ran club nights and loved music and dancing. “I had a wonderful time and then something really inconvenient happened in 1989.”
That inconvenience was Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa – imposed on Salman Rushdie for his novel, the Satanic Verses, which was widely considered blasphemous in the Muslim world. While Alyas didn’t think Rushdie should die, he also didn’t think The Satanic Verses was OK. Now he found himself being blamed for a fatwa that had nothing to do with him.
“I thought these friends understood and accepted me but now they were pointing fingers. The conversations went like this: ‘What’s wrong with you people? Why are you doing this? Why have you put a death threat on Salman Rushdie? What side are you on? Are you with us or against us?’ It was really as stark as that.”
Alyas had felt uncomfortable going to mosques, which back in the 1980s were run almost exclusively by older South Asian men whose first language was not English. So Alyas went searching for Islamic guidance from younger, English-speaking Muslims and found it. Under their influence, he reconnected with the faith of his parent’s generation, but took it in a much more radical direction – the focus was on global Muslim identity rather than personal morality or spirituality.
“It was a counterculture. It had a dress code and a language. I left my non-Muslim friends and when I left university, I completely devoted myself to the movement,” he says.
“It all started with the publication of the Satanic Verses and how people pushed me away. That’s why I always say I am one of Rushdie’s children. I was radicalised by white liberals.”
The Salafi school of thought Alyas became part of is more puritanical than traditional South Asian Islam, and has overt political leanings. Some of the people Alyas associated with ended up fighting in Bosnia, as members of the Bosnian army. He never made it to the battlefield, he says because his skills “were in promoting ideology”.
Today, Alyas has softened his approach. “Back then we only saw binary options: good or bad. With or against. Halal or haram. Now I prefer shades of grey,” he says.
He remains a devout Muslim who champions “the middle way”. He is an unconventional imam and psychologist. He offers his congregations in Huddersfield and Bradford advice on everything from sex and relationships to mental health.
Ed Husain was a few years younger than Alyas when The Satanic Verses was published. Still at school, he was excited when his father took him to Hyde Park to protest against the book….
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