Salman Rushdie and the Future of Blasphemy

September 9, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, this week published a piece in Providence discussing the recent attack against British-American novelist Salman Rushdie and what it means for the future of blasphemy accusations. Marshall writes:

The August 12 attack on novelist Salman Rushdie shows that the threat of Islamist blasphemy accusations is ongoing. It also suggests that the campaign to silence purported critics of Islam is succeeding. Despite this, there is still a widespread tendency to interpret these attacks largely through a Western lens.  

This decades-long campaign of violence against those accused of insulting Islam, or merely for disagreeing with extremist ideas, seems to be succeeding. On the same day as the attack on Rushdie, British columnist Kenan Malik suggested that while Rushdie’s critics had “lost the battle,” they had “won the war.” The American writer David Rieff suggested on Twitter that nowadays “The Satanic Verses” would run afoul of “sensitivity readers.” “The author would be told that words are violence — just as the fatwa said.” Rushdie himself had said a year earlier, “the kinds of people who stood up for me in the bad years might not do so now.” “The idea that being offended is a valid critique has gained a lot of traction.”   

In fact, Flemming Rose, an editor of Jyllands-Posten when it published the “Danish cartoons” of Mohamed in 2005, said over a decade ago “they have won…. It is no longer possible to publish things like that.” 

Read the full article: “Salman Rushdie and the Future of Blasphemy.”