After the Rushdie knighthood was announced, he explained that he’d once been a fan of incitement to murder:
So on February 14 1989, when the Iranian Islamic leader, Imam Khomeini delivered his fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie's death, I was truly elated.
But since those heady days, he had recanted of these views:
I will readily acknowledge that we were wrong to have called for the book to be banned. Today I can certainly better appreciate the concerns and fear generated by the images of book-burning in Bradford and the calls for the author to be killed. It seems crazy now, but I really did believe that some committee of learned elders should vet all books before they could be sold to the public.
Yes, the book-vetting does sound crazy, although some would say that the incitements to murder – which caused actual violence and actual murder – were greater “concerns”. But never mind, that’s all in the past.
Last week, Bunglawa continued his campaign against violent extremism in Islam:
Al-Qaida inspired terrorists clearly seem to believe that their murderous actions can be justified according to Islamic teachings. They along with their potential recruits need to be left in no doubt that those beliefs are a lethal misrepresentation of Islam.
So when Ayman al-Zawahiri, the theological brains of al-Qaeda, pops up to promise retribution against Britain for the Rushdie knighthood, we can expect some no-holds-barred condemnation and an explanation of why such violence would be unIslamic. We can expect Bunglawa to denounce al-Zawahiri’s threats and incitements with the zeal of a convert. We get this:
To reward Rushdie with a knighthood was an ill thought-out decision. It was bound to cause outrage among many Muslims around the world, considering the way Rushdie portrayed key Islamic figures in his book The Satanic Verses. However, it was quite predictable that al-Qa'ida would use the knighthood to try to further their own goals of polarising Muslims and the West; it was not unexpected.
Well. It takes some nerve to triangulate between al-Qaeda’s politics of fury and peaceful common decency, but Bunglawa’s not afraid to play to his constituency’s prejudices. Stroke the grievances; nurture the group identity; express distaste for the violence where appropriate; but wave the hard questions away; and stroke that grievance.