|All those years in hiding|
In that fateful year of 1989, at a time when the world was still divided in two blocks, that fatwa came to symbolise many things really, and in my eyes at least, Rushdie became a sort of hero, a true artist who defied everything and everyone in the name of creative freedom, an icon of free speech against religious intolerance and narrow-mindedness.Admittedly, this might have been a bit of a romantic idea of mine but then again I was a quite impressionable teenager in search of references and trying to make sense of what was going on all those years ago.
As it is well-known, that edict so solemnly proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini would completely turn upside-down Rushdie's life, who subsequently spent over 10 years of his life as an anonymous citizen, hiding from a more than likely fate that so pointlessly had been bestowed upon him; all that for a book many of the people protested against had never read.
We now know that all those years living in the shadows, Rushdie had become Joseph Anton, in an attempt to keep his potential killers at bay.Thankfully, he managed to do so though I can imagine that the cost of living undercover all those years may have had quite an impact on his life.
I find it quite ironic that in the same week Rushdie's memoir is being published, similar cases concerning freedom of speech and religious sensibilities are still making the news.Once again, there are people claiming to be offended and outraged because their beliefs are mocked (in this case by a film as insultingly bad as Innocence of Muslims); sure, being offended should be a right though threatening and even killing in the name of a religion shouldn't, so it would appear that despite living in a world that has seen Salman Rushdie let Joseph Anton go and has retrieved his own self, we are still a long way from the maturity and self-assurance required to deal with these supposedly insulting artists without making a fuss.