Salman Rushdie is a novelist who was famously the target of controversy due to his book The Satanic Verses. Violent protests erupted in response to Rushdie’s criticism of religion, particularly his criticism of Islam, and he was the subject of numerous death threats. A fatwā was issued against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in response to his writing.
Needless to say, he has some interesting things to say not only about religion, but about freedom of speech and the nature of terrorism.
I’ve been worrying about God a little bit lately. It seems as if he’s been lashing out, you know, destroying cities, annihilating places. It seems like he’s been in a bad mood. And I think it has to do with the quality of lovers he’s been getting. If you look at the people who love God now, you know, if I was God, I’d need to destroy something.
– said on Bill Maher’s Real Time
The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas — uncertainty, progress, change — into crimes.
— from Herbert Reade Memorial Lecture
What kind of God is it who’s upset by a cartoon in Danish?
– said in an interview with Bill Moyers
I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong.
– said in an interview with David Frost
In regards to that unpleasantness between me and the Ayatollah some years ago… one of us is dead.
– from an address at the University of Iowa
If we allow ourselves to be terrorized by fear of the terrorists, then they have won.
The last one is especially relevant, in light of the recent campaign by the TSA to include full-body scanners and aggressive pat-downs in the screening process at airports.