Ah, the lightbulb moment when the world's most venerated awarding body finally catches on -- some 30 years after the fact -- that death fatwas against authors are an assault on free speech worthy of condemnation.
27 years after Iran called for the head of British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature has finally come to realize that death fatwas might be a bad thing
The Local reports:
In a statement criticizing the death sentence, or fatwa, the head of the Swedish Academy, Tomas Riad, said: "The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech."
"The principle of the independence of literature from political control is of fundamental importance for civilization and must be defended against attacks by avengers and the adherents of censorship," he added.
Using the same principle of independence, the academy had originally declined to take a position on the 1989 fatwa on Rushdie, saying it was torn between showing its support for the author and maintaining its expressed neutrality.
For those unfamiliar, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death edict against Rushdie in 1989 for his novel, The Satanic Verses which condemned Islam.
The fatwa was, as Rushdie wrote in his 2012 memoir, "a first note of the dark music." Born in India to non-practising Muslims and himself an atheist, the writer was forced to go underground.
The murder or attempted murder of his translators and publishers followed and the British government placed him under police protection.
Three members of the Swedish Academy, Kerstin Ekman, Werner Aspenström and Lars Gyllensten, had been critical of the institution's decision to remain silent and refused to participate in any of its work. They were not, however, permitted to resign.
With the addition of new members over the past three decades, the Swedish Academy decided to take a position on the fatwa after the amount offered for the assassination of Rushdie was recently increased.
The near thirty-year spinelessness on display at the Nobel Academy perfectly illustrates why Europe now finds itself besieged by Islam and on the brink of civil war.