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Salman Rushdie says free Palestinian state would be 'Taliban-like'

Author tells German media Palestine state 'would be run by Hamas' and would be 'client' of Iran
Author Salman Rushdie attends a photocall in Berlin, 16 May 2024 (Reuters)

Salman Rushdie has said that a free Palestinian state would be “Taliban-like” and a “client” of Iran.

Speaking to German broadcaster RBB, the author said that “any human right now” had to be “distressed by what is happening in Gaza because of the quantity of human death”.

But, he continued: “I would just like some of the protesters to mention Hamas because that’s where this started. And Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It’s very strange for young, progressive student politics to kind of support a fascist, terrorist group.” 

“They’re talking about free Palestine. I am somebody who has argued for a Palestinian state for most of my life, since the 1980s probably,” Rushdie, who had a fatwa calling for his death placed on him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 after perceived blasphemy contained in his book The Satanic Verses, said. 

“Right now, if there was a Palestinian state, it would be run by Hamas and that would make it a Taliban-like state. It would be a client state of Iran,” said Rushdie. 

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“Is that what the progressive movements of the western left wish to create? To have another Taliban? Another Ayatollah-like state in the Middle East, right next to Israel?”

“There’s an emotional reaction to the death in Gaza and that’s absolutely right but when it slides over towards antisemitism and sometimes to actual support of Hamas, then it’s very problematic,” Rushdie said. 

The British-Indian author has been in Germany promoting his new book Knife, which tackles his stabbing in 2022 at a lecture in New York. The attack left Rushdie in a critical condition and resulted in the loss of his right eye.

The Taliban praised the attack on Twitter, and Tehran, which had long since distanced itself from the 1989 fatwa, blamed the writer and his supporters for the multiple stabbing.

In Germany, which has cracked down heavily on pro-Palestinian protests and targeted pro-Palestinian activists, including a number of high-profile Jewish intellectuals, Rushdie met Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. 

A clip of Rushdie’s interview and his comments about a free Palestine were shared by Israel’s official X account and by Israeli diplomat David Saranga.

Richard Hanania, a right-wing American commentator, and pro-Israel advocate, posted:

“Salman Rushdie, who has been chased to the ends of the earth by Islamists, sees things clearly. A Palestinian state would reflect Palestinian culture, and therefore be a menace to the world. People who think all you need is the right peace deal are crazy.”

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