The second is not a politico/religious comment.
The first is this: even without knowing a whole lot about Islam, it's not hard to see why the mullahs might have been pissed off at Rushdie. The Satanic Verses is highly irreverent, possibly to the point of blasphemy, I don't know. Rushdie implies that the divine revelation of the Quran had its more temporal and political inspirations as well. And his portrayal of Muhammed (may peace be upon him) is not very flattering.
On the other hand, off the top of my head I can't think of any other contemporary religion that has the arrogance to issue a public threat or death sentence, as it appears the fatwah against Rushdie was. All over a bit of writing. Bad enough when governments think they have the right to imprison someone for their opinions. But for a religion? My question would be this: Who appointed you god?
(And yes, I'm well aware that the Roman Catholic religion is not exactly lily white when it comes to this sort of thing. But it's quite a while since the pope passed a death sentence...We are supposed to be evolving into beings of compassion and light, no?)
So, my response to the leaders of Islam: get over it, and get over yourselves. The faithful won't be swayed by writing like this. And infidels, like me, don't care. We just like a good read.
Which brings me to my second point. Rushdie is one of those writers who makes me cry out in anguish and envy, "Goddam! I wish I could write like that!"
Here's a brief passage. It would take too long to explain the context, but you don't really need context to appreciate this:
An iceberg is water striving to be land; a mountain, especially a Himalaya, especially Everest, is land's attempt to metamorphose into sky; it is grounded flight, the earth mutated -- nearly -- into air, and become, in the true sense, exalted.Much of Rushdie's writing is virtuoso performance, a romp through Indian-accented English and you can't help but admire the pure delight he takes in telling tall tales.