Friday, February 20, 2009

Twenty Years after the Salman Rushdie Fatwa

Thierry Chervel analyses Islamism's current grip on the west (via
Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" show that enlightenment is not a path to bone-dry reason. The novel is packed with riddles and wonders, top-heavy with symbols and postmodern brouhaha, colourful as a Pakistani bus. It is a swift, inspired, extremely ambitious act of liberation. It is Gibreel's ham sandwich. Today one trembles at its impudence. The Prophet is called Mahound. Mohammed's twelve wives are reflected in the twelve prostitutes in a brothel. Not just enlightenment, it tells us, but blasphemy, too, leads humankind out of its self-imposed immaturity, an act of liberation which makes our hearts beat wildly, in euphoria and panic. The novel insists that we can ride our bicycles without stabilisers. It is beyond this act that the here and now awaits. This novel, written by an immigrant challenges Europe not to lose sight of its selfhood.

But Europe prefers not to listen.

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