Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sebastian Faulks: Same Old Dhimmi

Earlier this week, I expressed an admittedly naive hope that author Sebastian Faulks, who got into trouble recently for criticising the Qur'an, would become a new champion of free speech in the war against Islamic fascism.

But alas, he reveals himself to be a spineless dhimmi in this piece today in the Telegraph, in which he assures Muslims that he's so very sorry he hurt their feelings, and that actually the Qur'an is probably quite wonderful after all.

Faulks cringingly writes:

While we Judaeo-Christians can take a lot of verbal rough-and-tumble about our human-written scriptures, I know that to Muslims the Koran is different; it is by definition beyond criticism. And if anything I said or was quoted as saying (not always the same thing) offended any Muslim sensibility, I do apologise – and without reservation.

In other words, because Muslims believe the Qur'an is beyond criticism, we must believe it, too, and must refrain from doing or saying anything that causes Muslims offence. But this same leniency should not - and by definition cannot - be granted to Jews and Christians.

When are you doing the Shahada, Mr. Faulks?

One of the books I read as background to my novel was Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong.

Good Lord, Karen Armstrong! There was never any danger of the new Faulks book being controversial, then, given Armstrong's reputation as a blinkered apologist for Islam. Her two biographies of Muhammad have been nothing short of outright deceptive.

Sometimes the words of the Koran do have a slightly ranting rhythm to them – though this may be due to the translation, and Arabic has a different natural intonation from English.

Of course, that must be it! Faulks clearly knows none of the embarassing details of Muhammad's life which might help to contextualise these Qur'anic rants - and it's a certainty that none of his new Muslim friends will enlighten him, either.

My book is printed and I wouldn't want to change it because I believe it is fair and tolerant. But I welcome the idea put forward by Ajmal Masroor, an imam and spokesman for the Islamic Society for Britain, in this paper yesterday, that we "should sit down and talk about it" rather than navigate solo with our own cultural compasses.

If Mr Masroor is sincere in his offer, I would be pleased to learn more about Islam. I liked his response that he was more amused than offended, because A Week in December is a satirical novel; he is a man with whom I could do business. I would enter any such dialogue with a degree of humility and plenty of respect for his religion and his scripture; I feel sure he would do likewise.

What kind of "dialogue" is it going to be when he's telling you that the Qur'an is a wonderful and peaceful book, and you've already decided to agree with him?


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