September 20th, 2012
05:43 PM ET

Rushdie: Unrest a product of the outrage machine

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

Watch Fareed Zakaria’s full interview with author Salman Rushdie on GPS, Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET

Manufactured outrage such as that seen in recent protests in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere is “much more prevalent and much more widespread” than it was when The Satanic Verses was published, the book’s author, Salman Rushdie, has told Fareed Zakaria.

Rushdie sparked controversy, and enraged Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989 with his novel The Satanic Verses, a book widely praised by critics but condemned as blasphemous by Khomeini.

Back then, a fatwa was issued, and on Monday, Imam Hojatoleslam Hassan Sanei raised his little-known organization's original bounty on Rushdie by half a million dollars, to $3.3 million, according to Iran's Mehr news agency. Sanei’s organization, the 15th of Khordad Foundation, made news when it first offered its bounty, but it had in recent years largely faded from public view.

“The death sentence issued against Salman (Rushdie) was meant to dry the roots of anti-Islamic plots, and now by carrying out that sentence the sequence of these anti-Islamic plots could be uprooted and these days are the best time to do that,” Mehr quoted the imam as saying.

Rushdie's new book, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, is an account of the firestorm surrounding The Satanic Verses. But Rushdie suggests that as with the protests over The Satanic Verses, the recent unrest surrounding a controversial video that was posted on YouTube has been managed. “At the time of the attack on The Satanic Verses, what we saw was not so much a spontaneous outpouring of rage as a very carefully manufactured outpouring,” Rushdie told Zakaria.

“There was no doubt that it was highly controlled. You know, there were missives sent out from mosques to all sorts of people and they were all identical to make sure everybody was singing from the same song sheet...making the same attacks on the book in the same words.”

“Looking back at it, you can see that that was one of the early moments at which this project of manufacturing outrage began,” he said. “And that’s, of course, become much more prevalent and much more widespread.”

“And I think certainly, if we look at what’s happening now, this is very much a product of the outrage machine," Rushdie said. “Yes, there’s this stupid film...and the correct response to a stupid film on YouTube is to say it’s a stupid film on YouTube, and you get on with the rest of your life.

“So to take that and to deliberately use it to inflame your troops, you know, is a political act,” Rushdie added. “That’s not about religion, that’s about power.”

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Topics: India • Islam

soundoff (434 Responses)
  1. krm1007 ©™

    We continue to monitor the economic, political and cultural bubble burst/malaise in India and are very concerned with the continued state of deterioration. At this point, we restate our view that India is in a precarious situation and that a geo-political implosion is imminent (if not already in process) and the need of the hour. As you will recall, India has an unmanageable large population mired in poverty and we are spinning our wheels trying to prop it up. Additionally, it is also too big of a geographical unit to govern. Americans now need to focus on its own people and cannot afford to handout more financial and technological aid to India.

    We believe that this defragmentation of India will unleash boundless opportunities and uber economic demand that will be beneficial to US and Europe and help pull them out of current recessionary trends. We pray for the events to unfold peacefully and in a harmonious manner for the people of India and its neighbors.

    September 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  2. J. James Mcgregor

    Tragically, in India people are dying of hunger. Why are low caste poor Hindus prohibited from eating beef? People stop their cars, and sit for hours waiting for a cow to clear the roadway, thinking it to be sacred. In India cow meat is cheaper than other available meats. Instead of these Brahmins taking care of the low caste peoples of India, they are doing their best to save their "holy" cows instead. This is evil. According to Valmith's Ramayana, God Rama "ATE" meat. So then "why" have these Brahmins given up beef-eating? It's hypocrisy within their own religion.

    September 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  3. Rajkumar Singh

    Rushdie was one of the input sources for the project of manufacturing a product of outrage machine. When he found that there are now many sources which are deterrant to his business, he started finding fault in other sources. A day is not far off when he would admit that he was wrong most of the time, and that there should not be a Total Freedom.

    September 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Reply
    • georgex

      Freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry are the best tools for sorting out what is true from what is false.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  4. Koboji1976

    Until the western societies can get to know that Islam and the Muslim word is a society that ignorance dominants people perception, Arabs and Muslims are the worst man kind on earth. Unless Americans start to deal with these folks the way they have to be dealt with ....we shall continue to have in security in our societies, civilization and beliefs. if one depicts Prophet Mohammed it's an insult. Why, and if one is civilized enough why do you have to be insulted and go wild like an animal to kill innocent people about the depiction of Mohammed.

    September 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  5. gita

    The outrage machine is a carefully planned operation by the Mullahs every Friday. Islam is being distorted by these 'wise" men and uneducated, gullible Muslim youth no better than to pounce on anything non-Islam!

    September 24, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
  6. Coutu

    We remain extremely appalled and highly concerned about the continued medieval cultural and barbaric social practices prevalent in the name of Hinduism in India. Much to our chagrin, the human rights organizations are either turning a blind eye towards these injustices or are being paid off to look the other way. We are particularly aware of the victims of such practices, namely, young children and women especially those women who are pregnant and are bearing a female embryo.

    September 24, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Coutu

      They are being mistreated or simply sacrificed in the name of their deities. To the civilized world such atrocious behavior is repulsive and is condemned in the strongest words. We urge the Indian Hindus to immediately cease and desist from such unacceptable norms. To them we say the world is watching and will see to it that justice prevails.

      September 24, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
  7. BloodyReligion

    Have you seen the anti-US cartoons from Egypt? Just waiting for Americans to burn some embassies... oh wait, that won't happen.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19721654

    This attempted provocation might just shine a light on the differences between the West and the Muslim word.

    September 26, 2012 at 4:26 am | Reply
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