“Assassins of the Mind”: Christopher Hitchens’s Essay on Muslim Fundamentalist Violence, and Threats of Violence, Toward Authors and Publishers, Is a Must Read

Christopher Hitchens’s recent Vanity Fair essay on Western book publishers’ tendency to self-censorship (out of fear of Muslim fundamentalist violence toward authors and publishers) is must reading, and can be found here.

Hitchens traces Islamic fundamentalist threats to free thought and expression to the fatwa, put out twenty years ago, against Salman Rushdie, and reminds us of the violence that ensued at that time:

I thought then, and I think now, that this was not just a warning of what was to come. It was the warning. The civil war in the Muslim world, between those who believed in jihad and Shari’a and those who did not, was coming to our streets and cities. Within a short time, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses, was stabbed to death on the campus where he taught literature, and the Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was knifed in his apartment in Milan. William Nygaard, the novel’s Norwegian publisher, was shot three times in the back and left for dead outside his Oslo home. Several very serious bids, often backed by Iranian Embassies, were made on the life of Salman himself.

Hitchens essay is a gesture of brave speaking-out for intellectual liberty, and the gains of the Enlightenment, in a time of know-nothing religious fanaticism—and the corresponding collective cowardice that has emerged in the face of it.

Please go and read Hitchens’s article.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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