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Islamist Indian Supreme Court lawyer Nizam Pasha calls for Salman Rushdie to be tried: ‘By the standards of our legal and social morality…Rushdie deserved to be tried and imprisoned for his book’

In a recent article, Nizam Pasha – an Islamist lawyer serving in the Supreme Court of India – called for the trial of British-American Indian-born author Salman Rushdie for his book, The Satanic Verses.

In the article, titled “A Legal View on Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses'”, Pasha cites section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) under which Salman Rushdie could be tried and, he adds, imprisoned for the 1988 book. This law provides for prison terms for hurting the religious feelings of a class of people in India.

Pasha argues that Rushdie’s fundamental right to freedom of speech will be superseded in accordance with India’s constitution. The lawyer says he has read The Satanic Verses and blames Salman Rushdie “for questioning or even denying the divinity of the Quran’s revelation”.


Nizam Pasha practices at the Supreme Court of India

Here are excerpts from the article:[1]

“[Salman Rushdie] Borrows incidents from Islamic history, replaces pure intentions with malevolent intentions and makes them evil [Islamic] Hero”

“Much has already been written and said about the attack on Salman Rushdie on August 12, 2022. I just want to put some things into perspective. Coming from a legal system that recognizes insults to religion and religious beliefs (Section 295A of the ICC) as a valid restriction of the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 19(2) [of the Indian Constitution]for us, the debate should not be about glorifying Rushdie’s exercise of expansive artistic license, but about criticizing vigilante justice as a substitute for due process and law-mandated punishment. law.

“I read satanic verses many years ago because I didn’t want to be swayed by other people’s opinions. Here are my observations on the book.

“Rushdie was not an accidental slip or a little artistic flair gone overboard. He goes out of his way to insult, belittle and cast doubt. He takes incidents from the life of the Prophet [Muhammad] and makes devilish adjustments to them, mocking the Prophet and his companions. It borrows incidents from Islamic history, replaces pure intentions with malevolent intentions and makes villains [Islamic] hero.

“He questions or even denies the divinity of the Quran’s revelation, repeatedly questions the Prophet’s motives, and ascribes basic motives to him. Rushdie’s insight is the insight of a Muslim who grew up learning Islamic history and which includes theology. To this knowledge he brings the derision of a disbeliever.

“Rushdie’s offense was much more serious than the offense committed by people like Nupur Sharma, who speak ill of a prophet of whom they know nothing”

“In a famous incident in the [Hindu war epic] Mahabharata, Yuvraj Yudhishthir stands apart from the one-size-fits-all justice of Duryodhana, which had sentenced the four men convicted of murder to death, instead imposing sentences based on the culprit’s level of knowledge and understanding, with the sentence the highest being inflicted on one who commits a crime after reading and understanding the law, and the greatest leniency being given to the ignorant (leaving aside for the moment the angle of caste).

“By that standard, Rushdie’s offense was far greater than the offense of people like Nupur Sharma, who speak ill of a prophet they know nothing about. His wrong [to question Prophet Muhammad’s marriage with the six-year-old Ayesha and consummation at nine years of] was simply aggravated by the fact that she was the spokesperson for a party that is currently in government [headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi] and had been called to speak for them.

“If I were to draw a comparison, Nupur Sharma’s rant is the equivalent of someone whose car brushes up against yours in traffic, and yells crass abuse at you, most of which – as is customary with the abuse – are insinuations of incest. No matter how disgusting the abuse they inflict on you is water off a duck’s back after the heat of the moment wears off .

“Now compare that to someone who knows your family intimately and insinuates incestuous relationships between you and your family elders, addressing each member by name, telling twisted tales of real family reunions and suggesting that these meetings were the setting in which the incest occurred, and describes the acts in disgusting detail. Which of these are you most likely to forget, and which are you likely to hold a grudge until? at your grave?”

“Rushdie, on the other hand, knows exactly what he is doing and draws blood where he strikes. Indians are more sensitive to their religion than most people. And Muslims are more sensitive to their prophet”

“[The government of] West Bengal banned Taslima Nasrin’s Dwikhandito in 2003 for defaming poet Syed Hasmat Jalal. His most famous book is Lajja, Which was banned by the Bangladeshi government two months after it was published in 1993, due to its attack on Islam.

“I remember reading Taslima Nasreen’s book Lajja for the same reason i read satanic verses, and my first thought was that the book had more importance than it deserved. Nasreen’s account of the atrocities committed against Hindu minorities in Bangladesh was a criticism directed at Muslims rather than Islam. Her attribution of the violence and misogyny she witnessed in Bangladesh to Islam was incidental to her account and was nothing more nuanced than name-calling.

Wasim Rizvi [Indian shi’ite who converted to Hinduism] also wrote insults about the Prophet in his book Mohammed, but aside from being poorly written trash who once again resorted to name-calling, Rizvi renounced Islam soon after and became Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. The Muslims were not as outraged by his book as they were happy to be rid of him.

“Rushdie, on the other hand, knows exactly what he is doing and draws blood where he strikes. Indians are more sensitive to their religion than most people. And Muslims are more sensitive to their Prophet than to anything else. This is because apart from God and his prophet, Muslims disagree with each other on just about everything else. But oddly enough, we are not so sensitive about God.

“When an Indian of Muslim background like Rushdie, who knows and understands Muslim sensitivities more keenly than most, deliberately aims to insult, we must call the risk he runs at least a calculated risk”

“This is best explained by recounting the pre-Islamic incident, where the Prophet’s grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, goes to negotiate with King Abraha, who is camped outside Mecca with his army threatening to demolish the Kaaba Much to Abraha’s surprise, Abdul Muttalib only demanded the return of his stolen camels because “I am only the master of these camels, the Kaaba also has its master who will defend it.”

“So we mostly let God settle his own accounts, but we take slights to our Prophet very personally. The feeling is best described by a Farsi saying which goes: ‘Ba Khuda deewana bash, wa ba Mohammad hoshiyaar’ (Say what you want about God, but dare not take liberties with Muhammad). The person of the Prophet is therefore almost the only common denominator of Muslim sensibility throughout the world.

“And when a Muslim of Indian origin like Rushdie, who knows and understands Muslim sensitivities more than most, so deliberately aims to insult, we must call the risk he runs at least a calculated risk.

“The same is true, moreover, for [the Muslim comedian] Munawar Faruqui. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t just targeted for a joke he didn’t decipher, but first drew the ire of trolls for jokes about the Hindu deities Rama and Sita he had. unleashed during a previous broadcast.

“Again, as an Indian Muslim who has grown up around our own sensitivity to religious insults, shouldn’t he be expected to understand that the law and our societal morality demands that he scrupulously avoids insults directed against the gods of any religion?”

“The Quran categorically states ‘And do not insult the gods whom they invoke besides Allah, lest they insult Allah out of enmity without knowledge’ – (6:108)”

“These are the limits of freedom of expression which our constitutional system allows him. This is what the religion in which he was born demands of him. The Koran states categorically ‘And do not insult the gods that ‘they call on besides Allah, lest they insult Allah out of enmity without knowing it’ – (6:108). So why should we as liberals be called upon to defend an unfunny comedian who should have known better, and who may not deserve arrest but definitely deserves trial for his crime?

“Therefore, whatever they do for, be it fame or glory, money or power, they do it with their eyes open. Hindu or Muslim, the religious sensibility of the indifferent multitude is a beast that they know how to have a life of their own, and the obligation to avoid hurting these religious sensitivities is a restriction on their right to freedom of expression, at least in India.

“And the mere fact of pointing out that Rushdie suffered no restrictions on free speech in the jurisdiction where he resides suffers from the fatal flaw that the fatwa for his death also suffered no illegality in the jurisdiction where it was pronounced.

“Thus, by the standards of our legal and social morality, which is the only standard we are equipped to employ, Rushdie deserved to be tried and imprisoned for his book, since it was also briefly distributed in India before being be banned. We must therefore speak out against his attacker’s taking of justice, rather than tom-tom his freedom of expression and glorify the so-called art he created.”


[1] Outlookindia.com (India), September 2, 2022. The original English article has been slightly edited for clarity and standardization.