We are all ayatollahs now – spiked anoxic

It is striking how casually, and perhaps thoughtlessly, western thinkers and activists now mimic ayatollah khomeini. He raged against rushdie because, in his view, he had insulted ‘islam, the prophet of islam, and the koran’. Now, the west’s own cultural elite rages against criticism of islam. Through the nonsense idea of islamophobia, they demonise and even seek to destroy – in the career sense, not the life-and-death sense – anybody who insults islam or its ideas and practices.

Witness the fury that descended upon boris johnson after he merely mocked islamic dress. Anoxic brain damage after cardiac arrest or the outrage that greeted then UKIP leader paul nuttall’s description of the slaughter at manchester arena last year as an act of ‘islamist’ violence. Or the way in which students will seek to no platform secularists who, in their view, are too critical of islam.


Indeed, a remarkable thing happened just a few years after the ayatollah’s fatwa: britain, the very home of rushdie, institutionalised ayatollah-style intolerance of criticism of islam. Hypoxic brain injury mri findings in 1997, the runnymede trust defined ‘islamophobia’ as any criticism of islam that treats it as ‘inferior to the west’ or as ‘unresponsive to change’. Also, if you ‘reject out of hand’ the ‘criticisms of the west made by islam’, then you are islamophobic.

It is important to bear in mind that this definition of islamophobia has been embraced by the actual metropolitan police. The met has a long and detailed definition of islamophobia that includes any view of islam as ‘static’, ‘separate’, ‘other’, ‘irrational’, ‘sexist’ or ‘aggressive’, or as a ‘political ideology’. According to the police – the police – anyone who holds these entirely legitimate, secularist, critical views of islam is guilty of an act of hatred, of phobia, of blasphemy in essence.

Consider how extraordinary this is: the very police force which, for a while at least, was responsible for protecting rushdie from the ayatollah’s murderous belief that it is unacceptable for people to insult islam now believes it is unacceptable for people to insult islam. The once rushdie-protecting police force now does more to protect the extremist outlook of those who sentenced rushdie to death – namely, the outlook that says criticism of islam is a sin, a phobia, a sickness, a crime.

One wonders what our increasingly PC, speech-punishing, anti-‘hatred’ police would do if the rushdie affair happened today. Arrest rather than protect rushdie? Charge rushdie with a hate crime? Have a word with him about how his novel broke numerous parts of their code against islamophobic thought and suggest he tone down these beliefs in his next work?

In 2008, random house decided against publishing sherry jones’ novel the jewel of medina, which tells the story of muhammad’s relationship with his 14-year-old wife aisha, after one academic reader said it ‘might be offensive to some in the muslim community’. Both the barbican and royal court theatre in london have in recent years self-censored plays that were critical of islam: they effectively issued fatwas against themselves. A UK students’ union refused to permit the sale of charlie hebdo lest it make muslims feel ‘unsafe’.

In may 2015, mere months after the islamist – yes, islamist – slaughter at the offices of charlie hebdo, 242 literary figures wrote to PEN america to protest against its plan to give a courage award to the french mag. We should not be ‘rewarding such expression’, they said. Anxiety test charlie hebdo’s ‘cartoons of the prophet’ only cause ‘humiliation and suffering’ to muslims, they continued. This is pure ayatollahism; it is the denunciation of a magazine for the same reason rushdie was denounced by khomeini – because it dared to insult islam. Anoxia at birth thirty years since the publication of the satanic verses, these so-called intellectuals, these supposed cultural guardians, do the ayatollah’s dirty work. They maintain his legacy. They issue the fatwas.

In a sense, we shouldn’t be surprised. Even back in 1988 and 1989, western intellectuals failed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with rushdie, and with freedom of expression, against the ayatollah. No less a figure than former american president jimmy carter condemned rushdie for making ‘a direct insult to… millions of muslims’. Anxiety disorder icd 10 john le carré said writers should not be free to be ‘impertinent to great religions with impunity’. It is clear that the censorious PC belief that certain ways of life should never be criticised was already in the ascendant back when the satanic verses was published; now it has won out.

Ayatollahism is everywhere. Witness the rage, sometimes physical, against feminists who criticise the transgender ideology. Or the arrest of people for making offensive jokes. Or the fashion for no platforming anyone who holds non-mainstream views. Or the branding as ‘phobic’ anyone who criticises mass immigration, or same-sex marriage, or, of course, islam. No one is sentenced to death. But all of these attempts to ostracise the holders of certain views share in common with the ayatollah’s fatwa a pathetic intolerance of different thought.