Controversial novelist Salman Rushdie has said he feels “sorry” for Pope Benedict XVI, whose comments about Islam recently angered the Muslim community across the world.
“I’m in the unusual position of feeling sorry for the Pope. It’s a first for me. I just think people should calm down a bit. This immediate, manufactured outrage that takes place is getting to be excessive,” he said in an interview to The Times newspaper on Tuesday.
“Look at the things that are not being protested about. In Darfur you’ve got a Muslim massacre of other Muslims. Why aren’t there demonstrations about that in the Muslim world? That seems to me to be a much bigger thing than the Pope using a 15th-century quote,” Rushdie, against whom a ‘fatwa’ was issued by the then Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, said.
Asked to comment on the term Islamo-fascist, Rushdie said, “I think there are fascists who use Islamic ideas, so I’ve no problem with the term.”
“Islamophobia is a word that I do disapprove of quite a lot because it seems to me there is no reason why you should not dislike an idea. But if you have ideas that I don’t like, it’s perfectly okay for me to be phobic about them.”
“To use that as a term of criticism is very anti-intellectual. There are people who dislike my ideas who have not been afraid of being phobic about them,” he added.
See also the Times, 26 September 2006