Ar­ti­cle raises mem­o­ries of Satanic Verses

Times Colonist - - Comment -

Re: “Rushdie deals an elec­tion­eer­ing Joker,” Sept. 14. The ar­ti­cle on Sal­man Rushdie’s The Golden House re­minded me of that other Rushdie shak­ing of the lit­er­ary tree, The Satanic Verses, circa 1988.

The fat­wah had just been is­sued, I was part of PEN and the Writ­ers Union, a week had passed and no protest of this abom­inable Ira­nian ac­tion had come from those bod­ies or the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment. How­ever, the Coles Books chain had re­fused to stock the novel be­cause of fear that a store might be bombed. The lo­cal Vic­to­ria branch peo­ple did not have that fear.

In a Quixotic fit of pique, I de­cided to read the most the­o­log­i­cally of­fen­sive pas­sages of Satanic Verses aloud on the side­walk out­side the store at the cor­ner of Yates and Dou­glas. I in­vited the lo­cal press to at­tend; your pa­per and lo­cal TV did, but the CBC de­clined, say­ing that the fat­wah af­fair had al­ready — af­ter one week — had enough pub­lic­ity.

My small stand did noth­ing, of course, but af­ter, the Writ­ers Union found the courage to speak up. And speak­ing of courage, while it didn’t take much then, I would not im­pose the risk of reprisal against my fam­ily in to­day’s cli­mate. David Gurr Vic­to­ria

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