Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
UK Muslims: from relief to outrage
Not all Muslims supported book-burning or the fatwa
By BBC News Online's Matthew Grant
For some British Muslims, the main reaction to Iran's decision to distance itself from the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is relief that the saga finally appears to be coming to an end.
To young liberals the affair has become an embarrassment, highlighting only stereotypes of fundamentalism and contributing to a growing tide of Islamophobia.
Most still believe the author insulted their faith and God in such extreme fashion that it outweighs his right to freedom of speech. But talk of death threats and book burning are equally unwelcome.
Bashir Abrahim Khan, a press officer for Central London Mosque, said: "Our reaction is no reaction. I can't elaborate on that - there is no need to justify my answer."
A highly emotive issue
Yasmin Ahmed, a London solicitor, said: "Every sort of person who's like me doesn't want to talk about it. I've had conversations in the past that have become so emotive and people end up accusing you of defending the fatwa.
"It's also quite embarrassing, because once again it gives the extreme, fundamental version of Islam. There's a lot more to the subject, but the conclusion's been this fatwa and hence people don't want to talk about it. It's all just been so messy. People are just fed up."
"The fatwa was ill-advised," Mr Pidcock said. "It achieved the objective. He knew precisely what he was doing. It was his desire to create contention."
Suspicion of economic motives
Despite this, he is sceptical about the declared end to the threats against the author.
"Genuine Muslims recognise it for what it is. But a large proportion of Muslims are quite simple and have no understanding of the real politick. Of course, fundamentalism is really a sign of doubting and Islam is extremely tolerant.
"The whole thing is demonising Islam. Our economic system requires an evil empire. Russia is gone and Islam has to be next."
'Rushdie's life at greater risk'
"I think his life will be more at risk now after this high profile agreement," he said.
"Muslims endorsed the fatwa not because the Ayatollah Khomeini said it or because Iran said it but because God said it. The fatwa will stand. I believe there are many Muslims who have an opinion and who can carry it on.
"We always said Iran is not an Islamic state and now Iran will lose its credibility. This would be particularly significant in light of the deteriorating situation between Afghanistan and Iran and the latter's need for international recognition and support in the event of a conflict."
The man at the centre of the row, Salman Rushdie, does not believe these sorts of view are representative of Muslims in Britain.
"I have always believed that there has never really been any kind of threat towards me from members of the British Muslim community.
"I would expect that most British Muslims will be delighted by the news, not necessarily because they're fond of me but because they'll want to get this off their back - it's been a stick with which they've been beaten and I'm delighted its no longer there."