Salman Rushdie spent about a decade living under the threat of a fatwa that demanded his death for writing The Satanic Verses. The book angered many Muslims globally, none more than Iran’s political leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who put a bounty to his head in 1989, a year after its release.
While he apologised for the distress his book caused and, during the fatwa years, was careful to make a distinction between Islam and Islamism, in his memoir Joseph Anton (his assumed name during those years) he was beyond making such cautious distinctions.
Continuing in that strain, in the video above, posted on a Youtube channel Big Think Rushdie argues that we need to address the problem of Islam. He argues for free speech and avers that minorities, with reference to Muslim populations in the West, should promote free speech even if that means having to be bear “a certain amount of criticism of their own ideas” because it's in self interest.
He starts off by commenting of how in the past it was the Right Wing that did not allow any criticism of religions, but that mantle has since been passed over to the Left, the new “god squad”.
Rushdie then explains why he thinks criticising Islam is valid. “I think it’s perfectly legitimate to be highly critical of religion in general, and in particular right now the uses being made of the Islamic religion because, I mean, look what’s happening in the world, you know. I think to say that that’s not to do with Islam is just a logical impossibility. Of course it is.
“If everybody engaged in acts of Islamic terrorism says that they’re doing it in the name of Islam, who are we to say they’re not? I mean now of course what they mean by Islam might well not be what most Muslims mean by Islam. But it’s still a form of Islam and it’s a form of Islam that’s become unbelievably powerful in the last 25 and 30 years.
“A form of Islam that oppresses and kills Muslims more than anyone else. That’s to say most of the Muslim deaths in the world right now are not caused by American drones. They’re caused by Islamic attacks on Muslims of another type, you know. Shia attacks on Sunnis. Sunni attacks on Shias.
"Most of the oppression of Muslims in the world right now is carried out by other Muslims, you know. Whether it’s the Taliban in Afghanistan or, you know, the Ayatollahs in Iran or wherever it might be. But to say that this is not Islam is to misname the problem. The problem is that there’s been a mutation in Islam, which has become unusually virulent and powerful. And it needs to be dealt with, but in order to deal with it we have to first call it by its true name.”