Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Knighthood nonsense

News travels slowly in the back of beyond, it seems. It is now almost a month since Sir Salman Rushdie was awaded his knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours on June 16, 2007.

Yet, only today has Osama Bin Laden's sidekick, Ayman al-Zawahiri, apparently announced that this is an insult to Islam. In a recorded message, the English translation of which puts me in mind of a petulant child stamping its foot, al-Zawahiri hints at reprisals for the perceived insult, speaking of a specific response and referring to the recent failed car bombs in London and Glasgow.

If his references to those incidents is supposed to be a threat, I'm afraid that, like those who made the car bombs, al-Zawahiri has failed miserably. Don't get me wrong here - I'm not particularly in favour of Rushdie's knighthood. I don't think he deserved it, and, in my opinion, granting such an honour in the full knowledge that it would cause Bin Laden and his cronies to throw their toys out of their collective pram yet again was not a smart move.

That said, it's been done now, no matter how daft a move it may have been, and that's an end to it. Under no circumstances should any attention whatsoever be paid to a bunch of weirdly bearded malcontents having a tantrum in a cave somewhere in the back of beyond - they can posture and bully and rant all they like, but they must never be allowed to have any influence on domestic or foreign policy here in the UK.

Nor should the British government be making softly-softly statements like this one from the Foreign Office: "The government has already made clear that Rushdie's honour was not intended as an insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad." Quite clearly, it matters not one jot what the government's intention may have been; the only people likely to give a damn are already busy pretending to take offence and whipping up similar feelings in their soft-minded, cloth-headed sympathisers.

Rather, all departments of the British government need to make it very clear to anyone and everyone that the only folks to whom they are answerable are the British electorate - outlaws in outlying regions of nowhere very much need not apply. Unless and until Bin Liner and al-Zaweirdo are to be found living in a parliamentary constituency in the UK, with their names and addresses clearly present on the electoral roll, their views are of no consequence and should be treated as such.

Billy Seggars.

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