To the Editors:
As writers and scholars from the Islamic world we are appalled by the vilification, bookbanning and threats of physical violence against Salman Rushdie, the gifted author of Midnight’s Children, Shame, and The Satanic Verses. This campaign is done in the name of Islam, although none of it does Islam any credit. Certainly Muslims and others are entitled to protest against The Satanic Verses if they feel the novel offends their religion and cultural sensibilities. But to carry protest and debate over into the realm of bigoted violence is in fact antithetical to Islamic traditions of learning and tolerance. We deplore and regret this sort of thing, and we reaffirm our belief in universal principles of rational discussion and freedom of expression.
Aga Shahid Ali, Hamilton College;
Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Northwestern University;
Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University;
Eqbal Ahmad, Hampshire College;
Edward W. Said, Columbia University
March 16, 1989