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Backlash grows against British award of knighthood to Salman Rushdie

Pakistani hard-line clerics respond with an award of their own to Osama bin Laden.

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The award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," has prompted deep criticism from Egypt's parliament, which said Wednesday that the move was a bigger mistake than the publication of Danish cartoons about the prophet Muhammad that provoked global protests.

The parliament's Arab Affairs Committee said that the honor was a rejection of "all diplomatic principles" as it was given to someone who "has become famous because of his hostility to Islam."

Britain's award of a knighthood to the novelist, whose 1988 novel was criticized for its depiction of Islam, has stirred anger among many world Muslims, most notably in Pakistan, which has seen days of anti-British demonstrations and prompted one cabinet minister apparently to come out in defense of suicide attacks.

Reuters reports that a major Pakistani religious organization, the Ulema Council, has presented an award of their own to Osama bin Laden in response to Rushdie's knighthood.

If a blasphemer can be given the title 'Sir' by the West despite the fact he's hurt the feelings of Muslims, then a mujahid who has been fighting for Islam against the Russians, Americans and British must be given the lofty title of Islam, Saifullah," the chairman, Tahir Ashrafi, told Reuters.
A Mujahid is a Muslim holy warrior. Bin Laden was one of many Arabs who helped Afghan guerrillas battle Soviet invaders in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The speaker of the provincial assembly in Punjab province said blasphemers should be killed while Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of Pakistan's ruling party, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair was "personally and mentally against Islam.

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