As an addendum to yesterday’s post I thought I might remind readers of something about Keith Vaz. The chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee has of course just applauded the banning of two American authors from Britain because of their criticism of Islam. So I turn to Joseph Anton – the illuminating fatwa-memoir released last year by Salman Rushdie.
It contains a remarkable anecdote of the moment immediately after the news arrives of Ayatollah Khomeini's order of murder. Rushdie (incidentally writing of himself in the third person) describes walking into his literary agent’s office in London. His agent gives him an astonished look.
‘He was on the phone with the British-Indian Member of Parliament for Leicester East, Keith Vaz. He covered the mouthpiece and whispered, ‘Do you want to talk to this fellow?’
Vaz said, in that phone conversation, that what had happened was ‘appalling, absolutely appalling,’ and promised his ‘full support’. A few weeks later he was one of the main speakers at a demonstration against The Satanic Verses attended by over three thousand Muslims, and described that event as ‘one of the great days in the history of Islam and Great Britain.’
What guardians of our values we have.