Giulio Meotti
Giulio MeottiCourtesy
On September 26, 1988, the novel by the Anglo-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, “The Satanic Verses”, appeared at the Viking Penguin publishing house. Fifteen days later, the first death threats arrived.

In Bolton, UK, the book was burned in the square on December 2nd. On December 28th, package bomb threats arrived at the Viking Penguin offices.

The New Year passed without incident. Then 1989 changed everything. It was Valentine's Day when Khomeini's fatwa arrived from Iran: "I inform the proud people of Islam that the author of the 'Satanic Verses' who is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication are sentenced to death ”.

On the same day Rushdie and his wife were taken from their home in Islington, north London by the British Secret Service, to be taken to the more than fifty "safe houses" in which the writer would live for ten years. The two were now protected by a gigantic and very expensive security apparatus, similar to that reserved for a head of state. For years no one knew where they lived. Rushdie disappeared, as in a cloud. It was the first time that, in the name of Islam, a writer was condemned to evaporate from the face of the earth, he and his book. Then Rushdie "re-entered" society.

Rushdie seemed to have escaped until when he was stabbed 15 times in the neck by an Islamist as he was about to give a lecture in New York. In New York the Islamists reminded us that their fatwas do not lapse.

This is why self-censorship is rampant ... Already at the time of the fatwa, many Western publishing houses yielded to intimidation. Theo Van Gogh's film “Submission”, due to which he was murdered, has disappeared from film festivals. The cartoons on Muhammad published by “Charlie Hebdo” have been hidden from the public sphere:since the massacre, and few media have republished them. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York removed the images of Muhammad from an exhibition, while Yale Press published a book on the cartoons of the Prophet without reproducing them. “The Jewel of Medina”, a novel about Muhammad's wife, has been censored. In Rotterdam, a work on Aisha, one of Mohammed's wives, has been canceled. In England, the Victoria and Albert Museum has withdrawn a portrait of Muhammad. In Germany, the Deutsche Opera canceled Mozart's “Idomeneo” because Muhammad was it.

In France, there are 120 people under police protection due to Islamic threats. Simple students like Mila; Eric Zemmour, the bravest man in Europe, and the novelist Michel Houellebecq. But also dozens of professors, from Trappes to Grenoble. Many of them have seen their careers, lives and names destroyed.

Do they slaughter an English parliamentarian in a church? Let's not talk about it.

Do they slaughter a doctor in front of a school in Marseille? Let's not talk about it.

Do they burn churches, fill mass graves with Christians, select who to kill depending on whether or not they can recite the Shahada in Africa as in the Middle East? Let's not talk about it.

Do they sentence Asia Bibi to death, so she has to hide like Rushdie in Canada? Let's not talk about it.

Do they kill Jews in France? Let's not talk about it.

The West is losing its war.

But the author of The Satanic Verses had foreseen it to some extent. "Within the progressive movement there is an acceptance that certain ideas should be suppressed and I think that is worrying," Rushdie told the Irish Times. "Let's put it this way: the kind of people who defended me through the bad years - in other words, people in the liberal and left-wing arts - may not be willing to do it now."

For this reason, no bienpensants come to the defense of freedom of speech from the clutches of Islam anymore. Because they have already lost it. Islam has stuck its bony finger into the soft parts of Western intellectuals and found only cartilage.

I am afraid of Islamic violence, but also of the cowardice of these "respectable" intellectuals and journalists who, after the first blow, went under the radar to save their own skin. They have put us all in danger.

Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.