Re: Salman and Ibn

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 22 Nov 2002 - 04:55:37 GMT

  • Next message: "RE: Islam and Europe"

    Good story, Joe. It has the ring of truth.


    > Salman Rushdie Signs Humanist
    > Manifesto 2000
    > or How I Met the Great but Distant Man
    >Paris: Oct. 7
    >Salman Rushdie was in Paris on the occasion of the publication of
    >the French edition of his latest novel, The Ground Beneath Her
    >Feet, (" La Terre Sous Ses Pieds"). Just a few days before his
    >public appearance, a friend phoned to ask me whether I wanted to
    >go and meet Rushdie at a press conference in the famous Parisian
    >bookshop of FNAC “St.Lazare. I jumped at the idea, and
    >immediately set out for the capital. But on arriving at the
    >bookshop, we were told that only those who had special
    >invitations were permitted to get anywhere near the great man,
    >who was heavily guarded. I was greatly disappointed, and made
    >my way to my friend™s flat which was quite a distance from the
    >FNAC “St.Lazare. Just before reaching her flat, I walked past a
    >bookshop, and noticed an enormous photo of Rushdie in the
    >window. The shop was obviously stocking a large number of
    >copies of Rushdie's latest book, and almost all his other titles
    >available in French. I was about to turn away thinking Rushdie
    >was mocking me and rubbing in my failure to meet him, when I
    >noticed an unassuming little note at the bottom of the photo
    >saying Rushdie would be present to sign copies of his book in this
    >particular bookshop in two days time. I entered to check to see
    >whether Rushdie himself would really turn up at this tiny little
    >bookshop, almost unannounced. Yes indeed, he would. Sheer
    >luck! Sheer coincidence! I waited in the cold, third person in the
    >queue on Thursday, October 7th at 20 .00 hours outside the
    >bookshop; The elderly French couple in front of me said they had
    >not read anything by Rushdie but they were there on principle to
    >support Rushdie morally.
    >About fifteen bodyguards were placed in front of the bookshop,
    >and at promptly 20.30 Rushdie turned up in a large car with two
    >more policemen. He was rushed into the bookshop, and then
    >placed, rather illogically, right in front of the bookshop window,
    >where any assassin would have had no problem in firing directly
    >from a car or motorcycle from the road. Again, rather illogically,
    >given all the fuss surrounding Rushdie™s security, the public were
    >let in without any rigorous body search ; they did not even check
    >my briefcase as I sauntered in.
    >As I suddenly found myself in front of Rushdie, I asked him to
    >sign a copy of his book ( French edition), and then I blurted out
    >breathlessly and as quickly as possible that I was Ibn Warraq, that
    >I had sent him a copy of my book over two years ago, had he
    >heard of it? had he read it ? here was yet another copy? Yes, he
    >had heard of it, but did not think he had ever received a copy. No
    >he would not have much time to see me after the signing but I
    >could wait and see.
    >So, at the end when about 45 - 50 people had filed past, and the
    >field was clear, I again approached Rushdie. He was a little more
    >relaxed this time but still hardly very friendly. He confessed that
    >he had after all received a copy of my book but in manuscript
    >form! I showed him the copy of Free Inquiry with the Humanist
    >Manifesto 2000, explained to him very quickly what it and the
    >Council of Secular Humanism was all about, and invited him to
    >sign the manifesto and come to the Congress in Los Angeles in
    >May 2000.He said he would look at it and let me know. I asked
    >his permission to write to him via email, as I had his email
    >address from Taslima Nasrin. He gave his permission, and as I
    >left, I added, "Mr. Rushdie, thank you very much, you are an
    >inspiration to all of us." There for the first time, he showed some
    >sort of human warmth, as he smiled spontaneously at my generous
    >I wrote to him via email giving more details about the conference
    >in L.A. A few weeks later, I received a terse email note saying I
    >could add his name to the Manifesto but that he was unable to
    >attend the meeting in L.A.
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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