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A question for Obama: what about the Rushdie fatwa?

A question for Obama: what about the Rushdie fatwa?

Nothing to do with Islam?

In a previous post at Legal Insurrection, I suggested that the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and the Salman Rushdie fatwa issued in 1989 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran are analogous. In the case of the fatwa, a Muslim leader and cleric called on Muslims to kill a Western author deemed to be guilty of blasphemy towards Islam, more or less the same action the modern-day terrorists have taken on themselves against Western cartoonists who lampoon Mohammed.

In light of Obama’s repeated insistence that terrorists do not act as agents of Islam, doesn’t he need to answer some questions about the Rushdie fatwa? The questions appear in an essay of mine in the Weekly Standard, and whether or not Obama ever addresses them (please do not sit on a hot stove until he does), they point out the absurdity of his denial of the connection between such killings and Islam.

Here’s an excerpt:

The fatwa Khomeini issued makes chilling reading even today. Here’s a translation:

“I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled ‘Satanic Verses’. . . as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, are hereby sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Moslems to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed doing this will be regarded as a martyr and will go directly to heaven.”

Nothing to do with Islam? I would remind Obama, as he ponders that question, that at the time of the Rushdie fatwa Khomeini had not only been “Supreme Leader” of Iran — a country that has the seventh-largest Muslim population in the world — for almost a decade, but he also had long been considered an expert in Islamic law and had written many books on the subject.

Then in 1991, when Rushdie’s book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and when in 1993 his Italian translator was attacked in Milan but survived, and when the same thing happened to his Norwegian publisher in Oslo, did those murders and attempted murders have nothing to do with Islam?

The Iranian government officially supported the Rushdie fatwa for almost ten more years, until 1998, but that year did not mark the end of the trouble for Rushdie emanating from Iran. In 2012 a state-linked religious foundation increased the bounty that was still on Rushdie’s head. The reward for killing Rushdie now stands at a cool $3.3 million, and the leader of the foundation involved in the bounty money, Hassan Sanei, is also the group’s representative to the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Khomeini’s successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is a common misconception that the Rushdie fatwa is no longer in place, but that’s only because Iran’s non-clerical leaders appeared to disavow it after nine years. Its highly influential religious leaders did not. Supreme Leader Khamenei reaffirmed it in 2005, as have Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who “confirmed the Rushdie fatwa and stated its conformance with Muslim thought throughout history.”

Khomeini was no fringe figure in the religion he spent most of his life studying, and in which he rose to such a high position. Although it is certainly true that not every Muslim agrees with the views he espoused and Khameini still espouses, universal assent would be an impossible standard to meet. Obama would not have to be making a judgment about which sect is the true one in order to acknowledge that the official Iranian wing of Islam is accepted as bona fide by many millions in Iran, the seventh largest Muslim country in the world, and that Islamic scholars there consider both Khomeini and Khamenei to be highly respected figures within Islam, possessed of the authority to order “all the intrepid Muslims in the world” to kill writers deemed to have blasphemed.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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I’m put in mind of Pascal’s Wager…

There is no downside to dealing realistically with the Iranians as Muslim nutters UNTIL they prove they are NOT who they HAVE BEEN.

And, given the REAL stakes, that burden of proof would be justifiably stiff.

Doug Wright Old Grouchy | March 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Wow, this truly isn’t Powerline and that’s neither good nor bad. In fact, both blogs are fantastic! Hooray!

Comments are here to stay? 😉

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Well, you could say, like George W. Bush did, the Iranian regime is hijacking Islam.

After all, Khomeini, and now Khamenei, was and is not really the Shiite pope. That’s Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, and for a while, the U.S. worried his life was in danger.

If Khomeini, and now Khamenei are “highly respected figures within Islam” that’s only because they persecuted, arrested and even killed some ayatollahs who disputed their authority. In Shiite Islam, a jurist is not supposed to be a secular ruler, anyway.

Web page dated February 5, 2014 at 5:00 am:

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, a senior member of the Shiite Muslim clergy, is presently serving the eighth year of an 11-year sentence handed down to him by the Islamic Republic’s courts for advocating the separation of state and religion inside Iran. He has also spoken against political Islam and its leaders.

As a result, during his time in prison, he has been exposed to torture especially reserved for the Islamic Republic’s dissident clergy and political prisoners.

Boroujerdi has endured the rape of his spouse in front of other family members. He has been purposely exposed to toxic chemical agents while kept in a small solitary cell.

As a result, he now suffers permanent neurological damage, further aggravated by group beatings. Urgent medical attention has been systematically withheld for his long list of ailments, which are mostly a direct result of years of torture and malnutrition.

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Web page dated September 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Days before Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani addresses United Nations General Assembly, Ayatollah Hossein Kazamani Boroujerdi, the prominent dissident clergyman was informed that he will be executed for “anti-government views” — that is if Iran, by again withholding repeatedly-requested medical attention, does not passively execute him first….

The Human Rights and Democracy in Iran Agency reported that on September 23, 2014, Mohammad Mohavadi, prosecutor of the Special Clerical Court visited Ayatollah Boroujerdi in Ward 325 of Evin prison. Mohavadi informed him that the contents of Boroujerdi’s book were “heresy” against the leadership and insulted the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Mohavadi continued that the punishment for these crimes is execution, and stated that all those who had a hand in publishing the book will also be killed.

When Ayatollah Boroujerdi suggested an open, public debate with the Special Court regarding his views, Mohavadi announced that his office did not participate in debates, just trials and punishment [execution].

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Web page March 2, 2015: (Letter from Evin Prison, January)

As an Iranian citizen being suffered from different physical and psychological tortures even by abusing my family members, now I really understand how is the morality and credibility of Political Islam!

Actually I have spent more than eight continuous years in various prison cells of this so-called religious regime due to opposing to the interference of religion in politics. So as a result of this offense, I am living in the captivity of the regime while I have lost my youth and health.

As a divine leader, who calls upon everyone for establishing peace and freedom, and who promotes and preaches God’s kindness over than all the rigid and harsh laws of divine religions, I have been deprived of medical attention, and treatments and access to an attorney since I have been jailed and now I am dying in prison….

…But I expect that you as the great power of the world to utilize your legal and media tools for saving a nation who are being exhausted from the oppression of a religious dictatorship regime, and hence to compensate for the helplessness of my compatriots in fighting against with repressive leaders. I am now writing this letter from my horrible and hideous cell, which will be sent out by one of the prisoners.

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Maybe Benjamin netanyahu was wrong after all.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday:

…So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. …

The next day:!

Just in time for Purim, the Jewish holiday celebrating the redemption of the Jewish people from plots of genocide in ancient Persia, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday.

According to Arab media reports cited by Israel Hayom, Khamenei was urgently brought to a hospital in Tehran after several of his bodily systems had already failed.

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Staln died around Purim, too.

Well, as Obozo has clearly stated that “the future must not belong to those who [allegedly] ‘slander’ the prophet of Islam,” one may reasonably assume that he would support the fatwa, as Rushdie dared to (in Muslims’ eyes) “slander” Mohammed.

Sammy Finkelman | March 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Khamenei Alive, Makes Public Appearance to Stop Death Rumors

Iran’s Supreme Leader makes public appearance Sunday to stop death rumors – but it is unclear when the footage was taped.

No, I think he’s not dead, or even gravely sick. (At such a critical point, the regime could hide it, and no secretive organization, not Howard Hughes, not North Korea has ever hidden the death of it sleader for more tahn one or two days I think)

This reminds of the repeated reports for several years that Brezhnev, and then the Soviet leaders who followed him, were about to die, and later Osama bin Laden was supposed to have kidney failure and Abu Musab al Zarqawi, leader of the predecessor of ISIS in Iraq, was supposed to be missing a leg.

Prince Banmdar bin Sultan was also supposed to be dead for a while, back in the days when he headed Saudi intelligence

This sxeems to be a tactic to encourage people to wait for someone’s death and meanwhile not make any plans. And have hope for the future that things will improve soon.