Salman Rushdie attack unacceptable to Islam, says Muslim World League Chief

Riyadh — Knife-attack against the renowned author Salman Rushdie in New York was “a crime that Islam does not allow”, said Muslim World League Secretary-General Muhammad bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, Arab News reported on Monday.

Al-Issa was quoted as saying on the sidelines of a conference on interreligious interaction in Rimini, Italy, that “Islam is against violence and can never admit any method of violence. Religious and intellectual issues, including phrases that may read in full or partly as offensive, cannot never be dealt with in these violent ways”.

75-year-old, Rushdie was scheduled to give lecture on artistic freedom at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on August 12 when he was stabbed by a man identified as Hadi Matar, a US-raised 24-year-old youth with Lebanese roots, who was reported to be influenced by the Iranian Mullah regime.

Since the publication of his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses”, which led Iran’s then-leader Ali Khamenei to urge Muslims to kill him, Rushdie has lived with a bounty on his head.

Islam is “opposed to violence,” said Al-Issa, who is also the president of the International Islamic Halal Organization and a former justice minister of Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Al-Issa, a fervent opponent of religious extremism, has received praise from government officials and religious leaders for his work to advance interfaith harmony.

“Religion is “the sense of man’s existence in this life, the sum of values based on particular principles, at the base of which there is not only a philosophy but also a religious source that comes from God”, Dr Al-Issa said. “For this we speak of values, both religion and the religious instinct. This also means the sense of faith in the human being,” he said, adding that love and passion are “central factors in religion.”

“The believer must love all others even if he does not agree with them. The believer knows that love and mercy are needed in this life. Love is life, coexistence, peace, harmony”, he added.

In order to promote peaceful interfaith cooperation, the MWL chief also emphasized the importance of interreligious conversation. This discourse should “remove any ambiguities and clarify the truths both within and beyond the Islamic world, both for Muslims and non-Muslims”. The language of reason and wisdom is dialogue. If everyone uses it, we all get closer and this method allays other people’s anxieties.

All minorities should “live with dignity” and be successfully assimilated into their own countries, he added. We also wish that all governments protect minorities’ rights and their unique cultural, religious, and political traditions. Regardless of whether they are Muslim or not, we do not tolerate offense against any minority in the world.