Sir Salman in the sea of blasphemy

Irfan Husain in OpenDemocracy:

Screenhunter_21_jun_27_1428The decision to knight Salman Rushdie, announced in Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honours list on 15 June 2007 has provoked a vigorous reaction in Pakistan. As protests continue, they are descending from the genuine to the self-serving. While there no more public demonstrations, politicians are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to out-fatwa each other.

Arbab Rahim, the Sindh chief minister, was at least original when he announced he was surrendering the British awards given to his grandfather in 1937, and to his uncle in 1945. Considering that these worthies are no longer with us to voice an opinion, this was gesture of dubious value. In fact, I doubt very much that Tony Blair is greatly troubled by this post-facto, post-mortem rejection of two minor medals the colonial government handed out by the cartload to minor tribal chiefs and feudal landowners. Rahim also urged Benazir Bhutto to similarly renounce the knighthood conferred upon Shahnawaz Bhutto, her grandfather, accusing her of not being sufficiently angered by this “insult to all Muslims”.

At the same time, a group of Islamabad traders decided to increase the stakes by announcing a 10-million rupee (around 80,000 pounds) reward for Rushdie’s decapitation. The leader of this association, Ajmal Baluch, also called for a boycott of British goods. A ban on bootlegged Scotch would certainly hit Pakistan’s elite very hard.

More here.