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Which clippings match 'Islam' keyword pg.1 of 1
18 FEBRUARY 2009

Reconsidering the Rushdie affair: free-speech, censorship and 'The Satanic Verses'

"The history of modern Iran provides a dramatic illustration of the fallacy represented by the modern jingoism of 'better our imperialism than theirs'. For the two forms of imperialism are actually intimately related. By forcefully imposing Western values on Muslim states we are merely creating the ideal conditions for the very form of Islamic imperialism we most fear. At the same time, by maintaining an attitude of almost complete insensitivity in relation to The Satanic Verses we are feeding the cruel fundamentalism we seek to oppose. For the continued prestige of the novel in the West is itself a source of cultural humiliation for countless thousands of Muslims both in this country and elsewhere.

Most ironically of all, by persisting in their intransigent support for Rushdie's novel, Western liberals are demonstrating not their strength but their weakness. For it is by having the courage to correct mistakes and misjudgments that cultures ultimately demonstrate their strength.

In this respect Salman Rushdie's reflections on his own possible fallibility are highly significant. In his essay 'In Good Faith', he writes: 'Would I have written differently if I had known what would happen? Truthfully, I don't know. Would I change any of the text now? I would not. It's too late. As Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote in The Physicists: 'What has once been thought cannot be unthought.' '

The flaw in this argument is that the quotation from Dürrenmatt addresses a quite different problem from that which is at issue. It is quite true that 'what has once been thought cannot be unthought' but thoughts are not words. They are essentially private and the fact that we cannot 'unthink' them is irrelevant to the Rushdie affair. For it is one of the conditions of human freedom that we can choose whether or not to voice in public the thoughts that we have in private. And having once chosen to commit our thoughts to speech or to writing we remain free to have 'second thoughts' – to revise, change or even completely repudiate what we have already said.

It is, indeed, almost a precondition of successful human relationships that we should remain free to withdraw or apologise for remarks which have proved hurtful, to 'unsay' things which we have already said and to put right mistakes or misjudgments. To place ourselves in a position where we are unable to do this is a sign not of liberty but of rigidity. Indeed, when Rushdie claims that he cannot alter or withdraw what he has written, he appears to invest himself with the infallibility which traditional religious believers normally ascribe to their gods and their divinely inspired prophets. It is just such delusions which lead to the monolithic and terrible certainties of scripture. By implicitly applying a scriptural doctrine of inerrancy to his own secular writing Rushdie has come close to making a novel – a human fable – into something as rigid and dangerous as scripture itself."
(Richard Webster, 1992)


censorshipcultural sensitivityethics • free-speech • Friedrich Dürrenmatt • fundamentalismimperialismIranIslamIslamophobiajingoismMuslim • Richard Webster • Salman Rushdie • Satanic Verses • scripturetradition • unsay • unthought


Simon Perkins
15 NOVEMBER 2005

Garden of Eden Underpining Modern Western Zoological and Botanic Gardens

"the zoological garden, like the botanical garden emerges from Assyrian hunting parks (c1350 BC) in fiction from the mythological topos of Paradise (pairidaeza) shared yet differently interpreted by both Islam and Christianity. Whilst there is evidence of collections of animals in Egyptian and Chinese gardens, it is the Garden of Eden, which underpins modern western zoological and botanic gardens. The first modern botanic garden is attributed to the Padua University (1543), although it can be traced to Aristotle's Lyceum. The inclusion of collections of animals in gardens for mere spectacle can be most illustriously ascribed to the Romans who developed aviaries and menageries but the seminal menagerie design was that of Le Vau for Louis 14th at Versailles in 1663."

(Richard Weller)

Fig.1. Jeremy @ picasaweb, 1 August 2008, 'Cassowary at Edinburgh Zoo', Scotland.



Assyrianaviary • botanic • cassowary • ChristiancollectionsEgypt • Garden of Eden • gardens • hunting parks • Islam • Lyceum • menagerieparadisePeoples Republic of ChinaPerthRomanspectaclezoozoologicalzoology

Retrospective Identities: unambiguous, stable, intellectually impervious and collective

Retrospective "identities use as resources narratives of the past which provide exemplars, criteria, belonging and . ... This provides for an unambiguous, stable, intellectually impervious, collective identity. This consumes the self in all its manifestations and gives it a site outside of current and future instabilities, beyond current ambiguities of judgement, relation and conduct. In some contexts it produces a strong insulation between the sacred and profane, such that it is possible to enter the profane world without either being appropriated or colonised by it. Islamic fundamentalism enables the appropriation of western technologies without cultural penetration. Nearer home orthodox Jews in the 1920s, and even earlier, occupied small shops and business slots in the economy and retained their identity through strict orthodox practice. In the 1960s and onwards many British [Central] Asian Moslems occupied a similar economic and cultural context. The problem here for such retrospective identities is their reproduction in the next generation, and here we might expect a shift to prospective or even therapeutic positions. Age may well influence the expression of the retrospective identity through differential selection of resources. It may well be that the young are attracted to the current revival of charismatic Christianity with its emphasis upon the subjective, the emotional, upon intense interactive participation and upon oppositions to institutional orthodoxes. On a more anecdotal level I have been impressed with the revival of student fraternity rituals in Portugal, Norway and Germany. Finally we can consider nationalism and populism as subsets of retrospective fundamentalism, drawing on mythological resources of origin, belonging, progression and destiny (rise of the extreme right). Any weakening of the collective resource on which the fundamentalist identity draws and which minutely regulates conduct, belief and participation, as is likely in inter–generation reproduction, may entail a shift to re–centring identities on the part of the young."

(Basil Bernstein 2000, p.74)

Bernstein, Basil. (2000). 'Pedagogy Symbolic Control and Identity, Theory Research Critique'. Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.



Basil Bernsteinbelief systemsbelongingChristianitycoherenceconservative attitudesfaithfraternityfundamentalismGermany • Hillsong Church • identityinsular communitiesIslamIslamicJudaism • Moslem • MuslimmythologynationalismNorwaynostalgiaold fashioned family valuesorthodox practicesorthodoxy • Paradise Community Church • populism • Portugalprofaneradicalisationreligionreligious fundamentalism • retrospective identity • ritualsacredsubculture • televangelism
11 AUGUST 2005

Christian forces humiliating Muslims in their own heartland

"[Islam, like Christianity] is fuelled by diverse factors. Some point to the growing resentment of being humiliated by the Christian West. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq have been the most recent causes for resentment, of Christian forces humiliating Muslims in their own heartland. The support of Israel by the United States to the neglect of the Palestinian people only confirms such resentment in the minds of many. But there are other factors as well. Many young, educated males in Muslim lands cannot find jobs. Since Western technology has failed them, they turn to their faith. The sheer pace of globalisation, and the migration of Muslims out of majority–Muslim countries into a Muslim diaspora have created an alienation that makes people cling more to their faith. Movements of revival have been moving through the Muslim world since the 1930s, but the recent developments of globalisation and migration have brought them to the attention of the rest of the world. As recently as the early 1990s, French scholar Olivier Roy saw worldwide Islam as too decentralised and too disorganised to make much social difference. Today, he speaks more carefully about what he sees happening."

(Robert J. Schreiter, p.5)

2). Schreiter, R. J. (2005). "A New Modernity: Living and Believing in an Unstable World". The Anthony Jordan Lectures, Newman Theological College, Edmonton Alberta, March 18–19, 2005 p.5. http://www.mission– (Accessed 10 August 2005).


26 MARCH 2005

Al-Jazari: Ludic Interactions

"an alternative notion of automation emphasizing the oft–neglected affective dimensions of interactions with machines. Many of al–Jazari's machines were preoccupied with providing visual and highly visceral experiences that were both playful and speculative. It is suggested that the ludic dimensions and, what I call, ‘automotive pleasures', of the machinic and automated experiences elicited by al–Jazari's machines have been historically displaced by the increasing constitution of machines as labour–substitutive, instrumental and culturally neutral contraptions."

(Gunalan Nadarajan)



African culture • Al-Jazari • Asian elephant • automation • automaton • automotive pleasures • ball • bucket • Chinese culture • clockcontraption • cuckoo clock • dragon • Egyptian culture • elephant • elephant clock • engineerengineeringGreek culture • Gunalan Nadarajan • howdah • humanoid automaton • Indian culture • interactionIslamIslamic cultureludicludic interventionmachine • mahout • mechanical birdmechanical innovationmedieval invention • multiculturalism represented in technology • passage of time • phoenix • play • see-saw mechanism • serpentsnakespeculative design • timing mechanism • tower • turban • Turkey • water clock • water-filled bucket • weight powered water clock

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