Now Salman Rushdie has started falling. Soon he will have to apologize, and after apologizing, Ayatollah Khomeini will ask him to do penance. “Come to Kaaba and fast for one month…” Salman Rushdie has taken a wrong move. This is how people out of fear have been kept imprisoned.
I was hoping that a man of the intelligence of Salman Rushdie would prefer death to apologizing. He has not committed any sin, and he has not done anything wrong. I was hoping that he would put Ayatollah Khomeini in a corner. He should ask him, “On what grounds are you saying that I have committed anything against Islam? Tell me exactly what is the reason that you are asking for an apology or giving me a sentence to death.” And that would have exposed Ayatollah Khomeini because none of these ayatollahs have given a reason.
Rushdie simply stated a historical fact, that a few of the verses which Mohammed wrote in an earlier version of the Koran he dropped later on saying that he had been inspired by the devil to write these verses. Now, this is a historical fact, it is not Salman Rushdie’s imagination. Why should he ask forgiveness?
He should have said, “Give me the reasons,” and he would have put these fanatics into a corner, because they cannot say what really is the problem. I want you to understand it because that will give you an insight into the murderous instinct of all the religions. This does not make any sense because it is a well-established fact, accepted by Mohammedan scholars for centuries, that a few verses have been dropped. And the statement of Mohammed is well known to those who have ever studied the Koran and the history of Islam. So they cannot really say these are the verses that are creating trouble, because then immediately the question arises that they are historical facts.
For the same reason, Galileo was called by the pope because he had written that it is not the sun that goes around the earth; on the contrary, it is the earth that goes around the sun. But the Bible states the commonsense view. Just as we see the sun rising in the morning and going around from the east to the west, setting, so it appears that the sun is going around the earth. This is a commonsense view, but the question that Galileo had asked the pope was, “Why are you are so much afraid of a truth? I have been experimenting; this is my whole life’s work. And even if I withdraw the sentence that you are wanting me to withdraw, neither is the earth going to change its course nor the sun, because they don’t read my books. The earth will go on circling the sun. But why are you afraid?” Galileo had asked, and he had cornered the pope: “You either prove that I am wrong on scientific grounds…because it is not a religious matter at all. What has religion to do with whether the sun goes around the earth or the earth goes around the sun? It has nothing to do with any spirituality, it is a scientific area. If anybody can prove anything scientifically against me, then of course I will withdraw. But why are you afraid?”