Sweat runs through her hair in droplets Coursing downward from her face Heat is sultry velvet to her skin Touchable air, thick its stroke wets Lungs feel emptied, breath sucked out As she lies spent then gasps rising To snatch what life she can Into the frailness of her frame
She reaches for breath to draw in Through the splutters, every rasp Fills with oxygen once again then wait Shallow fast lifts of her ribs Until the next rising in gasps To snatch what life she can
In the 1970’s, probably earlier, Asians began to migrate to Britain. They could do so easily, being from the former British Empire. They brought families or sent for them later, after they had a home and a job or a business.
The British called them Asians or, in the perjorative, Paks. Their children wanted to fit in and went to school and then university. Meanwhile, an Asian writer had a problem getting a book published as it was so controversial. Finally, The Satanic Verses was published in 1988. It was nominated for prizes and won some awards. Salman Rushdie, the author, made lots of money.
Life in Britain carried on for Asians, but fearing unrest, Rajiv Ghandi banned the import of the book in India and in 1989, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, declared a Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. A fatwa is an order to kill or murder.
The reaction was powerful because the book refers to verses in the Quaran to do with three Meccan “goddesses”. These references in the magical realty book are considered to be blasphemous as Islam is monotheist and that could not be tolerated by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Life for young Asians continued normally for a while, but when going home from university for term breaks they found their mothers were upset, so they went to mosques to learn more. For some, this simply deepened their faith in Islam while others became what we term “radicalized”. In Britain, we now call most Asians “Muslims” and other people of smaller religions are called by the name of that religion, but we don’t call white people “Christians” as most are not.
Over a period of time these radicalized Muslims gathered in secrecy and planned to punish the non-Islamic world for the insult made by Rushdie, and for the hedonistic lifestyle they believe we live. They learned how to fly aircraft and entered many countries legally for the purpose of terrorism.
The first we knew of this was the explosion in the PanAm flight that came down over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1989. But the most notorious act of terrorism was September 11, 2001 when aircraft were flown into the World Trade Core in New York, the Pentagon, and another plane failed due to the heroism of passengers who overcame the terrorists, but perished with them in a crash into the fields of Pennsylvania.
President G. W. Bush foolishly called these attacks an act of war and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to acts of terrorism in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Kenya, to name the worst affected. Tunisia had an attack too, although it is a Muslim country. Many European tourists go there. The London Underground had a train blown up in July 2005, while two buses were bombed simultaneously. On bridges, vehicles were driven into people on the sidewalk three times, a soldier was knifed and beheaded, and a bomb was detonated at a concert. A van with a bomb was driven into Glasgow airport, and France suffered much the same fate.
In all the acts of terrorism, many Muslims were killed too. But Salman Rushdie, in hiding, was untouched. However, people involved in the publication of his book have been killed.
It was last year when Rushdie was attacked while on a stage in New York, that I learned the history of the book he wrote, knowing it would upset many, many, people. I heard British Muslims tell how they decided not to fit in any longer, although many did not take up terrorism. I listened to facts I had not known as I was living overseas where news is less concentrated.
My own feelings are not important here. I have lost those I love in the acts of terrorism. I have to remember that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But no one needed freedom from anything in this case. Just a Caliphate to rule.
The West is against censorship and very for freedom of speech. I am too, but I take responsibility for what I write. Salman Rushdie has not. I cannot excuse him, but neither can I condone the terrorism in so many countries, by bombs, aircraft, vans, and knives.
There are so many Muslim countries and emirs. But one Muslim in England insulted them knowingly and caused so much death. I have writer friends who say Rushdie is a great writer. I read “Midnight’s Children” and found it quite unspectacular. But mostly, in my writing community, we get on with writing. I am mainly a Poet, but prose writing and essays are increasingly in my repertoire. I love to write about nature.
This essay has been brewing for months but encountering an Afghan writer here on Medium has given more understanding of the Muslim way of thinking. I owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks also to a Medium staff writer.
Please note that this is an overview, not a detailed study. For that you can use websites and books.
Thank you to BBC Radio 4 for interviews with Muslim men, discussions about censorship, and other incidental pieces of information.
We are so misunderstood and taken for granted we comprise only one in one hundred folk rare, like diamonds, shining brightly or trodden on in the noisy crowded room
We have no dark side, no vendetta to execute vengeance is not for us, we love the relationship more we say sorry knowing we are correct, out of love but will be truthful about it if we trust you
We trust too much and get hurt too frequently understanding what others do not see, feeling for others we are creative, caring, loyal, loving, laughing Alone frequently, we need our solitude to refresh us
We are passionate people, in love, in causes, nature is our world of choice, at peace walking alone Feeling deeply, we can be hurt but forget easily after “sorry” a second hurt reminds us to stay away from the source
Tough too, like diamonds, we dig deep for resilience we endure until the end, but back away from trouble We know we’re not perfect, we are self-aware,?so please take the time to know us, and we will be your reward
Words fail to describe my heartache, my pain it was a physical shock when you cut me dead my left shoulder will never feel the same since my body recoiled, screaming your name
The lies you tell, the fiction you shouted at me for four years, killing me literally with your words A Polish man saved my life, but again your onslaught the hurt in my shoulder remains and will not go
Flesh of my flesh, I know you so well, my mind drifts to memories, so many, a lifetime of them disbelief, shock, hurt, forgiveness, anger, love so many feelings conflict, still adoration for you
Admiration for your gifts, the talents I nurtured watching you run, dance, swim, loving what you do self-efficacy I taught you, truly beautiful to behold so many times that what you were told, so I said it
must dwell inside, and it did, does, I hurt too much I could drown in this ache, suffocate in your shouts of abuse, all fiction, all lies, your years are written in my file, evidence of your fibs, your made-up truth
Yet tomorrow I would embrace you so tightly you are written on my heart, a lunar pull to you speechless I would comfort you still more Bone of my bone, light of my life, you carry my heart