Monday 25 June 2007

Rushdie: tide turning (or maybe not)

Making a refreshing change from the mean-spirited reactions in last week's Guardian, yesterday's edition of its sister paper, The Observer contained two incisive articles on the affair, one by Nick Cohen and the other by Andrew Anthony. Cohen condemns 'the unholy alliance that damns Rushdie' while Anthony believes Sir Salman is 'a godsend to literature and free speech'. Perhaps, as Mick Hartley suggests with regard to another Nick Cohen piece, the message is getting through and the tide is turning.

Or then again, perhaps not. The Drink Soaked Trots report an appalling interview given by the ludicrous Lord Ahmed to French television, in which he compares Rushdie to Holocaust denier David Irving. Ahmed is quoted as saying: 'Say for instance, the man who was refusing to acknowledge Holocaust in Austria and who was sentenced to prison, say if he was knighted, just tell me how our Jewish friends would feel?' There's a distasteful echo here of the 'holocaust cartoon' campaign run by an Iranian newspaper as a reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons. How often does it have to be pointed out that poking fun at someone's beliefs isn't quite on the same scale as denying genocide? Lord Ahmed is a one-man argument (if one were needed) for abolishing the unelected House of Lords.

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