In an impressive show of strength, one hundred Arab and Muslim intellectuals have written op-ed length articles in support of Rushdie. The writers include such heavy-weights as the Syrian poet Adonis, the Kirgiz novelist Chingiz Aïtmatov, the Syrian writer Sadiq Al-Azm, the Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, the Tunisian historian Hichem Djaït, the Lebanese novelist Hanan el-Cheikh, the Israeli and Arab novelists Emile Habibi and Anton Shammas, and the Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz.
Their formats vary, from poetry to analysis to open letter to music, but the message stays the same: We're with you Salman. In addition to these, the volume includes a document of great daring: under the title, "Call of Iranian artists and intellectuals in favor of Salman Rushdie," some 127 Iranian figures have signed a petition blasting the Khomeini edict against Rushdie, as well as the "terrorist and liberty-cide methods" of the Islamic Republic.
This outpouring of solidarity with the beleagured victim of fundamentalist Islam has a message not just for Muslims but also for Westerners. First, don't assume that all Muslims think as do the ayatollahs, but recognize that they are the first victims of fanatics. Second, ignore the Western apologists who claim that fundamentalism is the tide of the future, and fight it along with the brave Muslims represented in this volume.