So Salman Rushdie was in Leiden today, and he gave a speech at the university (oldest university in Holland). I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I’ve heard that his books are really bad and that he isn’t a good writer. I was pleasantly surprised, since not only was he funny but he said some insightful things about Islam today.
A Dutch politician asked him why Islamists hate the West/what they don’t like about the West. Rushdie first pointed out that it’s an extremely complicated question (PhD dissertation I personally think), and that Islamism is different in every country. In Iran, for example, one mistake the West made (the US in particular) was to get rid of Iran’s elected president and install the Shah. The Shah then cracked down on all freedom and so Iranians turned to the mosque as a means of expressing dissent.
However, one HUGE mistake the West made (again, mainly the US) was to give the al-Saud family power in Arabia. This allowed them to spread Wahhabism, a very narrow, literalist understanding of Islam, and one Rushdie referred to as “moronic”. I must say, despite what I think of Rushdie, I do agree that Wahhabism has become one of Islam’s biggest problems, and it has been able to spread so fast because the al-Saud family in Saudi Arabia have so much power.
Rushdie also pointed out that more and more Muslims have become literalists, and I also agree with that.
Has anyone read the Satanic Verses, or one of his other books? What do you think of his comments about Wahhabism?