Moderate Muslims must roar, says Rushdie
LONDON, England -- Moderate Muslim voices must be encouraged if terrorism is to be defeated, according to Salman Rushdie, the author who spent years under an Islamic death sentence.
In an article that appeared in Britain's Guardian newspaper and the New York Times, Rushdie said a "paranoid Islam" that blames outsiders for the ills of the Muslim world had sprung from the religion's radical political movements.
But the religion was central to the war on terror, he said, directly challenging assertions by the United States and Britain that the alliance only took issue with terrorism in general.
"Let's start calling a spade a spade. Of course this is 'about Islam'," wrote Rushdie, who faced a fatwa (death sentence) issued by Iran over his book, "The Satanic Verses."
"If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda?
"Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad?
"Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side?"
Rushdie, forced into hiding when the late Ayatollah Khomeni declared the fatwa in 1989, accused Islamic fundamentalists -- he calls them Islamists -- of having hijacked the religion.
Rushdie said that since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington previously timid moderate Muslim voices had at long last started to be heard.
"If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must be encouraged until they swell into a roar," he wrote.
"If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern is based, and without which their countries' freedom will remain a distant dream".
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