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Nick Cohen
Tuesday 2nd November 2010
Rushdie on Jon Stewart

In my previous post about Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam I quoted Salman Rushdie's surprise that Jon Stewart had given a starring role at his "Rally for Sanity" to a crooner who had previously opined that Rushdie deserved to die for deciding of his own free will to abandon Islam and criticise its texts.

 Salman has messaged me again and says,

I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam's appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.

"Pathetic" is the word I would use. If members of the Tea Party said that American intellectuals who renounced Christiainity deserved to die for their apostasy would Stewart be fine with that too? Of course he wouldn't. His eyes would roll, his voice would thunder and that charming schoolboy smile would vanish from his face. He would never forget, until they repudiated.

With intellectuals from the Muslim world, it is a different matter entirely. Stewart does not seem to mind that Cat Yusuf Stevens Islam has never apologized for his support for Salman's murder, which I documented in the post below. Stewart, and from what I can gather many others on the American Left, are now aping a liberal form of racism we have had in Europe for years. Its unprincipled adherents hold fanatics to be guilty of nothing more than forgivable rhetorical excess when they deliver excuses for murder. They are free to justify threats to novelists or the oppression of women, gays, free-thinkers etc. if — and only if — the novelists, apostates, women, gays, free thinkers etc. have brown rather than white skins.

But then what beyond rank hypocrisy did American liberals expect? They allowed their political movement to be led by comedians, and cannot complain if they get a blackly comic illustration of the "racism of the anti-racists" in return.

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lucas amos
November 22nd, 2014
6:11 PM
Spot on as usual Nick.

November 12th, 2012
6:11 PM
Nick, the appeasing intellectual types you refer to will always be in denial of the brutal intolerance of the type espoused by Yusuf Islam. They're forever altering their tolerance threshhold for other illiberal opinions, because (a) they have an almost school-girly type terror of being thought as "racist" or "intolerant" and (b) Crave everyone to think of them as "open minded" "multicultured" "metropolitan" "sophisticated" etc etc. These labels matter more to them than the brutal truth staring them in the face. Hence their inability for plain speaking when confronted by inconvenient truths.

Apostasy in Bible
December 19th, 2010
8:12 PM
The Bible very specifically says that apostates must "surely" be punishable by death. But Western Christian (as opposed to the less enlightened and and openly homophobic Christians of Africa and Jamaica, for example) reject such views anyway because culturally as Westerners we're far beyond that level culturally, but less enlightened Christians will inevitably read the Scriptures more literally. Therefore attacking their scriptures is a total waste of time since our scriptures are no better. The only difference is how our culture applies ancient edicts to the modern world, which is by taking a far less literal approach that true believers undoubtedly find hypocritical at some level.

Larry in Tel Aviv
November 28th, 2010
6:11 AM
Re Anonymous 4 November 6:11 pm post. I had a very poor and tense relationship with my father, never saw a need to drop my Jewish surname for a non-Jewish one for all that. People kept mispronouncing his surname, where? In Jewish New York? These are just pathetic excuses and rationalisations from the Stewart fanclub.

November 17th, 2010
3:11 PM
Pathetic, yes. And pathetic of people like one of the «Anonymous'» that go around voicing this new myth that Cat Stevens never supported the Fatwa against Rushdie. I actually remember seeing him on TV, possessed by some strange demon, explaining that it was necessary to kill an infidel like Salman. And I suppose he wasn't motivated by a matter of literary taste.

November 10th, 2010
5:11 PM
Overall, the issue is the unrepentant claims made by Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam. He stated, “He must be killed. The Qur'an makes it clear” and affirmed it, “yeah, its there in the Qur'an. I couldn't deny that” then reiterated it, “blasphemy, I could not tell a lie and confirmed that…the Qur'an considers it, without repentance, as a capital offense” and reinforced it, “blasphemy according to Islamic Law, I simply repeated the legal view” and further referenced, “Scriptural texts, based directly on historical commentaries of the Qur'an” and again, “Islamic view based on the Qur'an, the Prophet's sayings (peace and blessings be upon him) and the rulings of the Caliphs and renowned schools of Islamic jurisprudence.” Research on this, including a timeline, is found at:

November 5th, 2010
12:11 AM
Yusuf Islam has stated that he never supported the fatwa against Salman Rushde.

November 4th, 2010
7:11 PM
Stop foaming hatred against the messaiah of peace and love.First he never supported the fatwa ,read on tusuf`s web site. web site.

November 4th, 2010
7:11 PM
Name dropping eh, Nick Cohen. That is pathetic. The point is that Jon Stewart didn't say he was "fine with it," Salman Rushdie interpreted Jon Stewart's apology as such. Who cares what Rushdie thinks anyway. Khomeini is dead and Salman Rushdie, well, he's yesterday's man too... indeed if it wasn't for the dated Fatwa no-one would even be talking about him anymore.

November 4th, 2010
6:11 PM
By the way, to those arguing Stewart changed his name to "fit in," actual evidence suggests he did so because of a poor personal relationship with his father and impatience with people who kept mispronouncing it. Do your homework, folks.

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About Nick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom (Fourth Estate) and What's Left? How The Left Lost Its Way (Harper Perennial). Living With Lies, a collection of his writing for Standpoint, is available as an ebook. 

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