Imam Calls for Muslim British Armed Forces Boycott

A Birmingham Imam has said that Muslims should not fight in the British armed forces on conscientious grounds due to their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shaykh Asrar Rashid, a visiting cleric at the city’s mosques, also told the BBC the Queen was “a disgusting woman” for knighting author Salman Rushdie.

In 1989 Iran’s leaders called for the death of Mr Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, deemed “blasphemous”. The Muslim Council of Britain said the Imam’s views were not representative.

Theatre Review: Hanif Kureishi’s play “The Black Album” at Cottesloe Theatre, London

Hanif Kureishi has turned his own vibrant 1995 novel into a play. The result is a busy, hectic affair that raises all kinds of issues about religious and political faith, fatwas and censorship and the purpose of art. But, as so often with adaptations, you get the bones without the thickness of texture that was part of the original’s charm.

The Black Album, for all its allusions to Prince, is actually a very literary book: there’s more than a hint of Balzac’s Lost Illusions in its story of Shahid, a young Sevenoaks Asian who, in 1989, is exposed to the temptations of London. The play follows the novel in showing Shahid torn between conflicting values.

As a student he is eagerly adopted by a fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood led by the charismatic Riaz. But he also embarks on a passionate affair with a lecturer, Deedee Osgood, who in her devotion to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll embodies the seductions of liberalism.

Matters come to a head with the campaign against The Satanic Verses where Shahid is forced into deciding where his allegiance lies. The play throws up a whole heap of ideas: Muslim orthodoxy confronts Marxist-Leninist ideology and there is even a debate about postmodernist teaching versus canonical criticism.

The Black Album, a co-production between the National Theatre and Tara Arts
Cottesloe, London SE1 9PX, until 7 October 2009
Website here

Author’s ‘Satanic’ play debuts: No problems over contentious story

A German theater has brought Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to the stage, with no sign of trouble after authorities promised thorough security precautions. The Hans-Otto Theater in Potsdam says its version, which has 12 actors and ran for nearly four hours, is the first theatrical presentation of the novel. Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie to live in hiding for a decade. Theater director Uwe Eric Laufenberg had invited the author to Sunday’s premiere, but it had been unclear whether he would attend and Rushdie could not be seen in the audience. I think it is time for the Muslim world to say exactly what it finds so provocative about this book. Simply to say, _This book insults us’ is no longer enough at some point, Laufenberg said. He argued that the theatrical version could help to focus on the book’s contents and ease objections.

‘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.

German theatre stages Rushdie’s Satanic Verses without incident

A stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses debuted without incident in Germany Sunday, despite worries about the controversial production before opening night. German police were dispatched both inside and outside the Hans Otto Theatre in Potsdam, located southwest of Berlin, for Sunday’s nearly four-hour-long performance. Some German Muslim groups had publicly complained about the production before the curtain went up on what is billed as the first stage play of Rushdie’s novel. The adaptation, for which Rushdie gave his consent, was created by the theatre’s director Uwe Eric Laufenberg and playwright Marcus Mislin. Police said that there were no direct threats or disturbances surrounding the event, but that uniformed and undercover officers had been assigned as a precaution. Indian-born British author Rushdie has long been the target of extremists for his novel, which was deemed blasphemous by many in the Muslim world.

Islam Debate in Germany: “Girls are made unable for integration

The German writer G_nter Wallraff proposed reading Salman Rushdi’s ‘Satanic Verses’ in a controversial new mosque in Cologne. The religious foundation building the mosque discussed the project but eventually refused the proposal. G_nter Wallraff doesn’t think of himself as a provocateur, he just wants to get a dialogue going and to put the integration of Muslims in German society to the test. Now he is participating in a critical Islam conference. The critical Islam conference will take place in spring/summer 2008. A pubic announcement event, a penal discussion of Islam critics, including Wallraff, took place at the University of Cologne on 1 December. Spiegel Online has interviewed him about Islam in Germany.

German Author Wants to Read Satanic Verses in Mosque

A German book author said he wants to read aloud inside a Cologne mosque from “The Satanic Verses,” the 1988 novel by Salman Rushdie that some Muslims consider blasphemous and led to a 1989 fatwa against Rushdie. Just before political and religious leaders met in Berlin for the second national integration summit, journalist and author G_nter Wallraff, 64, proposed to read from Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” at a mosque to be built in Cologne by the western German city’s Turkish community. He said the Ankara-funded Ditib religious foundation had not been insulted and was discussing his proposal. The organization’s secretary for dialog, Bekir Alboga, said Wallraff’s idea had not been rejected outright, and that the Ditib board, would respond to the request.

Rushdie knighted in honours list

Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa, has been knighted by the Queen. His book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head in 1989. But since the Indian-born author returned to public life in 1999, he has not shied away from controversy. A devout secularist, he backed Commons Leader Jack Straw over comments on Muslim women and veils and has warned against Islamic “totalitarianism”. The son of a successful businessman, Sir Salman was born into a Muslim family in Mumbai in 1947. He was educated in England at Rugby School and studied history at Cambridge University.

Denmark: Danish Embassy In Teheran Firebombed

TEHERAN – Police used tear gas to briefly disperse hundreds of angry protesters who hurled stones and fire bombs at the Danish Embassy in the second attack on a Western mission in the Iranian capital on Monday over the publication of blasphemous caricatures. Police had encircled the embassy building but were unable to hold back the mob of 400 demonstrators as they pelted the walled brick villa that houses only the Danish mission with stones and Molotov cocktails. At least nine demonstrators were hurt in the melee, police said. About an hour into the demonstration, police fired tear gas into the mob, driving it into a nearby park. Later about 20 protesters returned and tried to break through police lines to enter the compound but were blocked by security forces. As the tear gas clouds dispersed, most of the rest of the crowd filtered back to the embassy and continued burning Danish flags and chanting anti-Danish slogans and God is Great. Two trees inside the embassy compound were set on fire by the gasoline bombs. The embassy gate was burned as was a police booth along the wall protecting the building. The Danish Foreign Ministry said it was not aware of any staff inside the building, which had closed for the day before the demonstration began. In a live television interview with the DR public television in Denmark, Ambassador Claus Juul Nielsen said the protesters vandalised the ground floor of the embassy, which included the trade and the visa departments. It now seems that the police control the situation, Juul Nielsen said. We have had no injuries among our staff, we were able to get out before it all started. The mob, which included about 100 women, ignored police orders to disperse continued to hurl firebombs, before they were hit with tear gas. The crowd disperesed by midnight. Earlier in the day, 200 student demonstrators threw stones at the Austrian Embassy, breaking some windows and starting small fires. Also on Monday, 200 members of Iran’s parliament issued a statement warning that those who published the cartoons should remember the case of Salman Rushdie – the British author against whom the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death warrant for his novel The Satanic Verses. Apparently they have not learned from miserable life of the person who wrote Satanic Verses, the lawmakers said in the statement, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Parliamentarians do not have the authority to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, like the one in which Khomeini called for Rushdie’s death in 1989. The Austrian mission in Teheran was targeted because Austria currently holds the presidency of the European Union. The demonstration at the Austrian Embassy lasted two hours, with protesters also throwing firecrackers that sparked the fires. Police quickly extinguished the blazes and stopped some protesters from throwing stones. On Monday night, a firebomb was thrown at the Austrian Cultural Centre in Teheran, causing no injuries, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said. Outside the embassy – located in a four-storey building in Teheran, the protesters chanted, Death to Denmark, death to Israel, and some burned flags of Germany, Denmark and France. One protester carried a caricature of German chancellor Angela Merkel. It was the first instance of violence over the drawings in Iran, though protests have occurred there. It came a day after thousands of Muslim demonstrators in Beirut set fire to the building housing the Danish mission in Beirut.