June 20, 2007

Language Log on politics seems to be as careless as the BBC on language.

Slate is as lazy as always:

The eruption of the Satanic Verses affair on St. Valentine’s Day 1989 caught everyone by surprise, and indeed, as with the Danish cartoon affair, it was really factitious. It would never have happened if some zealot hadn’t scoured a work of literary fiction previously unheard of in Tehran and thereby inflamed the passions of scores of millions who had not read it, and would never read it or any other novel.

From the estimable Wikipedia:

Reception: Timeline

* September 26, 1988: The novel is published in the UK.
* October 5, 1988: India bans the novel’s importation.
* November 21, 1988: Grand sheik of Egypt’s Al-Azhar calls on Islamic organizations in Britain to take legal action to prevent the novel’s distribution
* November 24, 1988: The novel is banned in South Africa and Pakistan; bans follow within weeks in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Qatar.
* December 1988-January 1989: British Muslims hold book burnings in Bolton and Bradford; Islamic Defense Council demands that Penguin Books apologise, withdraw the novel, destroy any extant copies, and never reprint it.
* February 12, 1989: Six people are killed and 100 injured during anti-Rushdie protests in Islamabad, Pakistan.
* February 13, 1989: One person is killed and 60 injured in anti-Rushdie riots in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India[citation needed].
* February 14, 1989: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issues a fatwa calling on all Muslims to execute all those involved in the publication of the novel; the 15 Khordad Foundation, an Iranian religious foundation or bonyad, offers a monetary reward for the murder of Rushdie.

Several Indians who were in Iran at the time have insisted that on the same day India banned the book, Iran issued a literary award to its author.

By the way, this is supposed to be an honor?:

Last Saturday was the queen’s “official birthday,” which, along with the New Year, is when assorted gongs are handed out, according to degree, to persons likely and unlikely. Those honored this time around included a former England cricket captain, Dame Edna (or at least Barry Humphries), rock singer Joe Cocker, and “the founders of the erotic lingerie line Agent Provocateur,” along with Sir Salman.


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