I’m halfway through Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie’s memoir of what it was like to be given a death sentence by medieval religious savages. I’m reviewing the book for next week’s magazine. We were, as a country, rather less than unequivocal in our determination to protect Rushdie for his right to exercising free speech; plenty of people who should have known better gave succour to his persecutors. I don’t know if the oleaginous Labour MP Keith Vaz falls into that category, mind; his support for the howling mob was, I suppose, predictable.
It’s a brilliant and important book. And there is a surprising amount of humour in it. So I’ll leave you with a puzzle. One of Rushdie’s police guards once parked his car outside a tobacconists and forgot to lock it. When he came out the car had gone. He was known to all his colleagues, as a consequence, as The King of Spain. Why?Tags: Freedom of speech, Islamism, Keith Vaz, salman rushdie