JERUSALEM (Feb. 21)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews have joined Moslem clergy in Israel in denouncing Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses,” which will appear in Israel soon in Hebrew translation.
Rabbi Avraham Ravitz, Knesset member and leader of the Degel HaTorah party, told the Knesset Education Committee on Tuesday that the author had “abused the freedom of expression to hurt religious feelings of hundreds of millions of Moslems throughout the world.”
Islamic fundamentalists contend the book blasphemes their faith.
The Indian-born British author has gone into hiding since the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran offered S1 million for his murder.
Sheik Mohammad Hubeishi, the kadi or Moslem religious judge of Acre, warned that publication of “The Satanic Verses” in Israel would sour the “delicate relations” between Jews and Arabs.
Keter, one of Israel’s largest publishing houses, said Monday it had contracted to publish the book here and was seeking a translator.
Niva Lanir, Keter’s chief editor, said the contract was signed on the basis of pre-publication catalogues, long before the controversy over the book erupted.
Sheik Zaki Madladj, the kadi of Jerusalem, admitted to army radio Tuesday that neither he nor any other Moslem clergy n Israel have read Rushdie’s book.
He said that while the book could not weaken a Moslem’s faith in God and his prophet, Mohammed, he opposed any confrontation with religious beliefs held by the masses, Jewish, Christian or Moslem.
“God is sacred to everyone, and no one has they right to come and shake this belief,” Madladj said.
He accused Rushdie of attacking religion “to sell more books and make more money.”
But the kadi did not agree the ayatollah should have put a price on Rushdie’s head. “No one delegated us with an authority to threaten his life,” he said.
Ravitz also protested the threats by the Iranian leader.