A wealth of implication

Not exactly.

Of course, the novel will be published sooner or later. Writing about Muhammad has become the shortest cut to media attention in the west. And of course semi-employed young men and women from religious Muslim backgrounds will be out on the streets, shouting.

Women? No they won’t. You don’t see them out there much – which is not surprising, since in ‘religious Muslim’ countries they’re not always encouraged to join in, if you get my drift. But they also, quite possibly, have better sense. It tends to be the young men who work themselves into stupid frenzies about this kind of thing. Rage boy, remember? Rage girl not so much.

[E]ven very religious Muslims cannot ignore the west any more, and – unfortunately – the west, it appears, cannot ignore them either.

Well there are those tugs on the sleeve every now and then, you know. The exploding bus, the exploding airplane, the exploding building – they’re hard to ignore.

European newspapers compared the deferred novel on Aisha to two recent, and very sad, events: the protests that followed the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and the Danish Muhammad cartoons, in which – wrote the Guardian objectively – “more than 100 people died”. The implication – unintended by the Guardian – is that about 100 people were killed by Islamic fundamentalists or protesters…But the fact remains that on both the occasions at least 80% of the people who died were Muslims protesting against Rushdie’s novel or the Danish cartoons. They were often shot by the police, sometimes in Muslim countries, when the protests got out of hand or were inconvenient.

I don’t think that is the implication. On the contrary. I think the intended implication is that the 100 people died because Rushdie’s novel and the Danish cartoons ‘sparked outrage’. The implication is not that Islamic fundamentalists killed each other, but that offended people were upset and then tragically got killed in the resulting violence, which was ultimately the fault not of the offended people or of the police but of the authors of the works that offended them. The BBC and the Guardian generally (though not this time) say that the novel or the cartoons ‘triggered’ or ’caused’ or ‘set off’ protests and riots – which is not true, and does imply that the novelist and the cartoonists did it on purpose or at least should have known better. So…Tabish Khair and I see the matter differently.

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