‘They’re provoking us,’ says Iranian writer after Verses play Earth Times

Potsdam, Germany – An Iranian writer in exile Monday described a Satanic Verses stage play and the anti-Islam short movie Fitna as “pure provocation” towards Muslims which played into the hands of fundamentalists. Speaking on Deutschlandradio Kultur, a national public radio channel, writer Bahman Nirumand described the two productions as “psychological warfare” under the mantle of “artistic freedom.” “I can assure you that the fundamentalists are extremely gratified by it,” he said. “They can use it to boost their position.” He compared the effect to a game of tennis, with one player exploiting the other’s unwise strokes. Nirumand appealed to Western intellectuals to cease this form of provocation and to differentiate Islam’s many aspects. “These allegedly artistic productions simply equate all Islam with violence,” he said. The first stage adaptation of The Satanic Verses, a controversial novel by Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, won applause from a German audience at its premiere, held under police guard on Sunday afternoon at Potsdam near Berlin. The adaptation in German digested Rushdie’s 700-page, 1988 book to a four-hour matinee at the Hans Otto Theatre in the city of Potsdam. The characters include a prophet named Mahound, a thinly disguised reference to Mohammed.