The incident is concerning the earlier version of the Koran, in which Mohammed accepted three female deities. Later on he canceled those verses concerning the female deities, and declared that those verses were inspired by the devil. Now it is a well-known fact that Mohammed changed those verses. If Salman Rushdie writes about it, it is not condemnatory, he is simply stating a fact which has been accepted. He has simply picked up theological information and written it into his book The Satanic Verses.
In Pakistan already five people have been killed because they were surrounding the American Embassy. The book has been published in England and now it is going to be published in America. And they were demanding from the American Embassy that it should not be published in America, “otherwise we will destroy you.” Just to protect them from these fanatical Mohammedans, who know nothing about the book but have just heard the rumor, the police had to fire at and kill five Mohammedans, and it is a Mohammedan state.
India is a democratic secular country. Rajiv Gandhi’s banning the book simply shows fear. And the fear of Rajiv Gandhi should not be against the constitution of India, against the laws of India. The ban should be immediately removed. That’s why I said perhaps he has not read the book himself, otherwise he would see that it is a beautiful fiction.
And now even Mohammedan scholars are coming out in favor of Salman Rushdie. Of course, they are all outside Iran. The so-called religious leaders are the worst kind of butchers. They would have killed anybody who would have raised the question. And I doubt whether they have read the books that they are condemning or not. I suspect that the book contains nothing, nothing that should cause four persons to be murdered as a punishment. It is against Islamic law and it is against Iran’s constitution. But in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini is the law, is the constitution.
He should be condemned from all corners of the world, whether one is a Mohammedan or not. He is taking away a human right, and that too, unnecessarily, because Salman Rushdie’s book contains nothing condemnatory about Mohammed. Just stating a historical fact which has been accepted for fourteen hundred years by Mohammedan scholars is not a crime. And his coming to the radio and declaring: “It is the duty of every Mohammedan around the world to kill these four persons – Salman Rushdie, the writer, the publisher of the book, the printer of the book, and the sole agent of the book. These four persons have to be killed without any mercy…”
Salman Rushdie is hiding in England, and has canceled his tour of America to promote the book and its publication there.
I was waiting to tell Rajiv Gandhi, waiting until some Mohammedan scholars would raise their voices. And all around the world voices are being raised.
I have received this news report:
“Eminent Muslims, including the former chief justice of Madras High Court, Justice Ismail, have unequivocally condemned Ayatollah Khomeini’s “death sentence” on author Salman Rushdie and all those associated with the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, describing it as against all law including Islamic law.