Prufrock's Page

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Novelists And Terrorists

In an op-ed article for The Wall Street Journal, Salil Tripathi asserts that authors are often the unacknowledged soothsayers of our age. Speaking of novels by British Asian authors that touch upon disaffection amongst the Muslim community, he writes: "Fiction writers have that sixth sense of being able to discern subtle undercurrents and cast light on the larger truth that policy makers miss."

Speaking of the work of Hanif Kureishi, Salman Rushdie, Monica Ali and others, he says: "If those novels were read carefully, then the composite picture that emerges today--of disaffected youth finding a new meaning through faith, joining religious groups and following foreign-born preachers, as well as of subterranean misogyny and ostracizing, and even killing those who leave the community by marrying outside the faith--should not have surprised anyone."

In his conclusion, however, Mr Tripathi shifts to launching an attack on the bogey of "political correctness":

"When Muslims in Bradford burned 'The Satanic Verses,' the government initially protected Mr. Rushdie's right to free speech and pandered to those who claimed to have been offended that the government's backing wasn't strong enough. This sort of political correctness has even driven Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, to welcome the Qatari-based cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who regularly offers religious justification for beating women, insulting Jews and gays, and praising suicide bombers.

"Heinrich Heine had warned in his 1821 play, Almansor': 'They who start by burning books will end by burning men.' Modern Britain is not Nazi-era Germany, but in 1989, in England's northern cities, Muslim activists burned copies of 'The Satanic Verses'--a chilling reminder of the massive book burnings undertaken by the Nazis in May 1933. Sixteen years later, young men from those English towns carried bombs in their backpacks and exploded them, burning--and killing--themselves and 52 other people."


Post a Comment

<< Home