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From Fatwa To Jihad

The Rushdie Affair and Its Aftermath

The international bestseller and finalist for the George Orwell Book Prize

“It would be absurd to think that a book can cause riots,” Salman Rushdie asserted just months before the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. But that’s exactly what eventually happened.

The protests started in England, and soon spread around the world, until the Ayatollah Khomeini called for Rushdie’s assassination, and the death of anyone associated with the book.

It was this frightening chain of events, Kenan Malik argues in From Fatwa to Jihad, his enlightened personal and political account of the period, that transformed the relationship between Islam and the West into a matter of terror and geopolitics that was no longer geographically constrained.

In a searing investigation, Malik traces the growth of the jihad movement within England’s second-generation Muslim immigrant community, and examines why these young Britons went from supporting progressive movements to embracing a conservative form of Islam.

Malik also controversially tackles England’s peculiar strain of “multiculturalism,” arguing that policymakers encouraged Muslims to view themselves as semi-detached citizens—which inevitably played into the hands of radical Islamists.

Twenty years later, the questions raised by the Rushdie affair—Islam’s relationship to the West, the meaning of multiculturalism, the limits of tolerance in a liberal society—have become the defining issues of our time.

KENAN MALIK is a writer, lecturer, and broadcaster. He is a visiting senior fellow in the Department of Political, International and Policy Studies at the University of Surrey. He is a presenter of Nightwaves on Radio 3 and Analysis on Radio 4. He has also written and presented a number of radio and TV documentaries. His books include The Meaning of Race, Man, Beast and Zombie, and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate. His latest book, which was published by Melville House, is The Quest for a Moral Compass.

“A thorough and highly readable history of the politics of the Rushdie affair and an important intervention in the current debate on freedom of expression.”—Monica Ali

”In tracing the legacy of the Rushdie Affair into our post-9/11 present, Malik marries the attributes of an investigative journalist and a political analyst. He challenges the cultural myths which have grown up during this period and sets out to slay their attendant monsters…A bracing analysis.”—Lisa Appignanesi, The Independent

”In the slipstream of history…The Rushdie Affair wears the strange innocence of an ancient war…Kenan Malik’s From Fatwa to Jihad is an enthralling…attempt to place [it] in context.”—Robert McCrum, The Observer

“In a collection of punchy chapters in razor sharp prose comes an intelligent and insightful analysis of how racism, multiculturalism, religion and terrorism has affected British society over the last twenty years … The great appeal of From Fatwa to Jihad is its pitiless observation and it is this which raises it above the easy standards of one-sided polemic.” —Faisal Gazi, The Guardian

”The Rushdie affair has become a key event in our understanding of free speech and blasphemy, as well as Islam, faith, politics, and even international diplomacy…From Fatwa to Jihad attempts to extract a message…[and] proves that conflict rarely leads to enlightenment.”—Nicholas Blincoe, Daily Telegraph

“An acute commentator on race and a staunch critic of multculturalism. . . The book asks some difficult but critical questions, and is not afraid to answer them . . . A powerful critique.”—New Humanist

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