The Rushdie affair: America’s security gaps and policy signalling

Salman Rushdie

By Batool Subeiti

Under what context did Imam Khomeini issue a religious edict (fatwa) in 1989, which sanctioned the killing of Salman Rushdie, the author of the controversial novel ‘Satanic Verses’? 

It is important to emphasize that this fatwa pertained to a specific and not a general ruling, implying that it was only applicable to Rushdie in order to set a precedent. 

The British-American novelist, the recipient of many prestigious awards in the West, was one of the first high-profile names to commit a blasphemy of such scale and magnitude, which led to the deaths of many Muslims in India and Pakistan before the fatwa was issued. 

The implementation of the historic fatwa was left to the discretion of people who believed in it, rather than its enforcement by any security or intelligence agency. 

When an idea is left to the judgment and reasoning of people, it’s difficult to contain it, which explains the extent of protection provided to Rushdie over the years.

This particular fatwa sought to highlight the extent of the danger posed by this brazen sacrilege and disrespect of religious feelings of Muslims across the globe, which had already cost lives, and to prevent further damage, in addition to preventing the emergence of thousands of other Rushdies.

Rushdie’s works served the sinister agenda of Western regimes that hold him in high esteem, having even been bestowed Knighthood during Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebrations in 2007. 

It is a known fact that the American and British intelligence agencies have left no stone unturned in implementing strategies that would cause sedition and stoke hatred between people in countries with multiple races and religions. 

One does not need to look too far than the Obama administration's despicable role in forming, equipping, and arming the Daesh terrorist group to serve the very same goals, a task that was later carried forward by Obama’s successors, most notably Donald Trump. 

Imam Khomeini saw this coming a long time ago when he issued a fatwa to prevent Satan and its various incarnations from gaining ground and poisoning the minds of people. He was clearly ahead of his time and anticipated the fallout of Rushdie’s brazen rabble-rousing.  

The fatwa was aimed at dismantling the vicious plots that sought to turn Muslim-majority countries into slaughterhouses, as we witnessed later in Arab countries such as Iraq and Syria. 

The message of the fatwa was loud and clear: if you fall into the vicious trap of divide-and-rule plots hatched by arrogant powers, the price will be too heavy. 

It is also an irrefutable fact that Rushdie's security was compromised recently which paved the way for his stabbing. Are there any political implications of the incident? Does the US intend to send a message to Iran by easing Rushdie’s security and allowing individuals to act on the fatwa? 

The US security and intelligence agencies provide round-the-clock protection to American citizens who face death threats. Take the example of former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

The Biden administration pays $2 million a month to protect Pompeo from so-called 'Iranian' threats. Despite the fact that Iran never threatened him directly, notwithstanding his complicity in the state-sponsored assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, he is provided heavy protection at the cost of American taxpayers’ money. 

It is important to ask why Rushdie’s security was relaxed by the American authorities. 

Is it a question of America being unable to protect him, given the fact that he has lived most of his life under tight protection? Or it is the US facilitating the attack, to get rid of the man, and then blame the Islamic Republic for it? 

One of the arguments also links it to the potential nuclear deal in Vienna, with the US seeking to sabotage it and blame it on Iran. Let’s not forget it was Washington that played the spoilsport in May 2018, and they cannot be trusted on a good deal.

So, could it be seen as a “goodwill” gesture by the US, giving Iran a more proactive role and getting rid of the consequences of having Rushdie on their land, which would earn them brownie points? Does Washington intend to send a positive signal to Iran of not leaving unresolved matters that could upset the potential nuclear agreement, or do they seek to use it as a card against Iran, with the 1989 fatwa as a cover for such an action?

If the former is the case, then the Biden administration first needs to reverse the hard-nosed measures taken by the previous administration, in violation of the 2015 deal, and end its hostile approach. The reality is that the signs of good intentions come to the heart of the matter and in their rightful context, not in side issues like giving space to the assassination of Rushdie, as a sign of compromise towards Iran in a particular matter, which America wants to prove.

If the American establishment wants to atone for its past sins, it must stop inciting people against each other and not club different issues and intertwine them to reach unjust settlements. 

Batool Subeiti is an Energy Engineer and Political Analyst based in London, UK

(The views expressed in this article are author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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