Iranian publishers, who had made all necessary arrangements to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair, decided to pull out because of the undue invitation by its organizers for the Indian-born British apostate Salman Rushdie to deliver a speech at the inaugural ceremony. Rushdie, born to Muslim parents in India and settled in London is the author of the highly blasphemous novel “The Satanic Verses” which makes a mockery of Islam as well as the other prophets, such as Abraham. Days after this satanic book drew Muslim blood in India and Pakistan in February 1989, the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) issued a historic fatwa sentencing the apostate writer to death. The Imam also made it clear that any repentance by an apostate born of Muslim parents is a matter solely concerning divine mercy in afterlife, and cannot be forgiven in this world. Ever since this dynamic verdict, Rushdie the apostate has been in hiding, under protection of the British government, and has continued to slander Islam and Muslims in his other works. Rushdie is often used by the western regimes and other anti-Islamic states, to appear at book and cultural events, to pour more poison on the sentiments of world Muslims. The western regimes try to justify his blasphemous work as freedom of expression, but concerning academic research on the so-called holocaust these very same regimes stifle any statements and imprison conscientious researchers in the West.
A statement released by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Guidance said: it is regrettable that organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair have made themselves the plaything of the Zionists and other enemies of Islam by harping on the ill-defined term of freedom of expression even if it means hurting of the sentiments of Muslims all over the world. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Guidance for Cultural Affairs, Seyyed Abbas Salehi, said that organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair have adopted freedom of expression as this year’s motto and then invited the person who has insulted the sanctities of Muslims. This is actually abuse of freedom of expression, since freedom of expression requires respect for the faith and sanctities of religions, while Rushdie’s works as well as the insulting caricatures sketched by some cartoonists in the West, are a clear violation of freedom of expression. Seyyed Abbas Salehi also hailed the decision of Iran’s private sector publishers in boycotting the Frankfurt Book Fair and called this as defence of ideological beliefs despite political and other diversities.
However, some Iranian representatives were present at the Islamic Republic’s empty book stalls in Frankfurt in order to explain to the public the reasons for boycotting this year’s exhibition by Iranian publishers. The responsibility for such a fiasco rests directly on the shoulders of Western regimes, who from time to time whip up Islamophobia at cultural events on the unjustified excuse of freedom of expression.
Islam invites people to monotheism, peace, security, healthy way of life, and freedom in the real sense of the term – not animal freedom that hurts the sentiments of others and degrades ethics and humanitarian values. Islam invites people to spread moral virtues. The message that was preached by Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) has nothing to do with violence and extremism. The attempts of regimes in the West to portray Islam as violent are part of intricate plots to tarnish the image of Muslims in a bid to stop conscientious persons in the West from accepting the truth of Islam. It is to be noted that even the West’s system of liberal democracy has certain red lines concerning freedom of expression, but at the same time feels free to insult Muslims. Some religious officials have acknowledged this point. The statements of Pope Francis, Leader of the Catholic sect of Christianity, in reaction to the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s insult to the Prophet of Islam last year is noteworthy. Pope Francis said: freedom of expression is one of the basic rights of humans but this right is not unlimited and has certain restrictions. He added that the right of freedom of expression, regarding the religious beliefs of people has certain restrictions. But no one in the West listens to these logical words.
In other words, freedom of expression does not mean mockery and insult of values held dear and sacred by others. Freedom of expression is a right while insult and mockery are trampling the rights of others and thus a crime. Insulting the divine Prophets is not an ordinary crime but it is a cardinal sin, as Rushdie has committed, and should never be forgiven. The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair were not expected to turn a cultural event into an opportunity for Islamophobia, but they did it by inviting sentenced apostate Rushdie, and this is all part of an intricate anti-Islamic plot.