I have a short piece in today’s Guardian looking back at the Satanic Verses affair. The Guardian item contains recollections from a number of people and appears to have been commissioned because Salaman Rushdie’s memoirs are due to be published this week. Here is what I had to say:
Looking back to the autumn of 1988, I think it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that it was in the heat of the Satanic Verses affair that we first saw the forging of a consciously British Muslim identity in the UK. I was a second-year university student at the time and it was a heady feeling marching and demonstrating alongside others who were from various ancestral backgrounds, including from the Indian subcontinent, north Africa, south-east Asia and elsewhere, but all united by their faith in Islam. Of course, our demands – which included the pulping of all copies of Rushdie’s novel – were, in retrospect, totally over the top and very embarrassing. We may not have liked his book, but there could be no excuse for trying to deny others the right to buy it and read it for themselves. I would hope that if the same events were to be replayed today, UK Muslims would instead respond by publishing their own books offering their own narrative. But you know what? After all these years, I still think Salman Rushdie is a bit pompous.
My original copy said that Rushdie was a ‘pompous git’. Not sure why the Guardian removed the ‘git’!