Sun, Oct 27, 2002 - Page 2 News List

KMT lawmakers fear publication of novel

SAFETY OR FREE SPEECH?Some legislators think the release of a Chinese translation of Salman Rushdie's `The Satanic Verses' will incite Muslim terrorists to attack Taiwan

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yen added that she believes that the fatwa's influence has waned, as no one has been harmed in connection with the book in the past eight years.

"Four years ago, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called for an end to the fatwa," she said.

Reporters were unable to reach Yen in the first few days after the Bali bombing that killed nearly 200 people, many of them foreign tourists.

"I had been trying to keep a low profile," she said later. "I was surprised by the successive tragedies in [neighboring countries]."

To protect the translator, the publishing house listed the translator as "anonymous."

According to Yen, the translator is not concerned about the controversy or potential retaliation from the Muslim community.

PFP lawmaker Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), a practicing Muslim, said all Muslims in Taiwan are law-abiding citizens but many of them find The Satanic Verses offensive.

"Because of the obvious attempt at associating itself with real events, the book is dangerously misleading for an audience that knows little about Islam or Muslims," he said.

Calling the work profane, the lawmaker said freedom of expression stops where vilifications and misrepresentations of fact start.

In 1990 Rushdie issued an apology in which he affirmed his respect for the religion.

Many around the world have spoken out in his favor over the years. Naguib Mahfouz of Egpyt, winner of 1988's Nobel Literature Prize, said the following February that he considered the fatwa a form of intellectual terrorism -- the idea of killing someone because of what he wrote.

Yen noted that the book is a novel, and its theme is not related to Islam or any other religion. "This is absolutely not the book for anyone who wants to understand Islam," she said.

Indeed, publishing firms in Taiwan have long been leery of the book. The China Times Publishing Co, for instance, gave up its plan to publish a translation a decade ago.

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