By Paul Tighe and Khaleeq Ahmed
June 19 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan said it resents the award of a knighthood by the U.K. to author Salman Rushdie, whose 1988 book ``The Satanic Verses'' was condemned by some Muslims as blasphemous and led to violent protests.
The British high commissioner in Pakistan met with foreign ministry officials in Islamabad and was told that the knighthood showed an ``utter lack of sensitivity on the part of the British government,'' said Tasnim Aslam, spokeswoman for Pakistan's Foreign Office. The U.K. diplomat, Robert Brinkley, expressed ``deep concern'' about Pakistan's position, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office in London said.
The Pakistani government's move followed a resolution by lawmakers seeking withdrawal of the decision by the U.K.
The publication of ``The Satanic Verses'' in 1988 prompted Iran's then religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa, or religious order, condemning Rushdie to death. The Indian-born writer spent nine years in hiding, living with guards in various locations in the U.K.
``This decision can unnecessarily incite religious feelings,'' Aslam said. The British high commissioner was told that ``Rushdie has been a controversial figure who is known less for his contribution to literature and more for hurting the feelings of Muslims.''
The Iranian Ambassador to London Rasoul Movahedian issued a strong protest to the British government when he met U.K. Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary Peter Ricketts today, according to a statement on the Iranian Embassy's Web site.
`Clash of Civilizations'
``This will intensify the clash of cultures and civilizations,'' Movahedian said, according to an embassy press release. ``The ill-judged policies of the current government will only result in the further isolation of Britain in the Islamic world and damage its credibility.''
Rushdie has written nine novels including ``The Ground Beneath Her Feet'' and most recently ``Shalimar the Clown.'' His 1980 book ``Midnight's Children,'' won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, and was selected in 1993 as the best novel in 25 years of the Prize.
Iran criticized the June 16 announcement by the U.K. government that Rushdie will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The decision is a sign of the U.K.'s ``hostility toward Islam,'' the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
The issue concerns the religious sentiments of Muslims, Sher Afgan Niazi, Pakistan's minister for parliamentary affairs, told the assembly when he presented the resolution yesterday, according to APP.
Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's religious affairs minister, said such an award can provoke suicide attacks, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing his speech to parliament. He said later his comments were aimed at stressing the origins of terrorism and not condoning or inciting attacks, according to the BBC's report.
Supporters of Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six opposition Islamic groups, will stage a protest against the award outside Parliament House tomorrow, Shahid Shamsi, a spokesman, said today.
Iran in 1998 said it wouldn't seek to apply Khomeini's religious decree, a move that allowed the Iranian and U.K. governments to begin the process of normalizing relations. Some Islamic groups have said that the order is irreversible.
To contact the reporters on this story: Paul Tighe in Sydney at email@example.com ; Khaleeq Ahmed in Islamabad.
We have to be cool as Muslims. We have to be angry and resentful about what Rushdie wrote against Islam, however we have to control our emotions. Some in the west want to see Muslim angry and then would label them as angry fanatics. Some in the west look for people like him to make them heroes in order to attack Islam. I do not agree with any fatwa for killing anyone against free speech. In the time of Muhammad (PBUH) the hypocrites and unbelievers would have very nasty free speech against Islam and Muslims. Muslims were not killing them for that. Killing in Islam is justified in self defence and other reason of just wars that the west have promoted as to free the captives. The west will give Rushdie the best trophies for being brave against some Muslims who declared that he should be killed. The right way to handle that is to ignore his writings and when he win a trophy in few lines declare our resentment to his writings. Some in the west would like to see us consumed by that. We should move beyond Rushdie. What we need is to concentrate in finding better living condition for the poor and oppressed in the world.