Salman Rushdie was awarded a knighthood on Saturday. Britain's decision to honour Rushdie enraged the Islamic world; the harshest disapproval came from Pakistan and Iran.
The Muslim protests reminded the world of the storm which followed after the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran pronounced a fatwa (death sentence) on Rushdie over alleged blasphemies against Islam in his iconic 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie has had to live under police protection ever since.
Pakistan's religious affairs minister Ejaz ul-Haq endorsed retaliatory measures on the offenders (Queen?, Britain?, all Westerners?) yesterday: "If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified."
Daniel Finkelstein, the chief comments editor of The Times newspaper, submitted a petition for the Number 10 Downing Street website that reads:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to accept our congratulations for recommending to the Queen that Salman Rushdie receive a knighthood.The e-petition will appear here as soon as it is approved by Number 10. I will sign. It is important that we all show our solidarity with Sir Salman, who is not only an excellent writer but also a symbol of free speech. We must show the Islamists that the West will not surrender to blackmail and compromise its values.