Rushdie vs Greer
He says she's a 'double racist' over stance on Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' movie. She wants a public debate
Sunday 30 July 2006
The author and journalist Salman Rushdie has launched an outspoken attack on fellow literary heavyweight Germaine Greer.
The row, sparked by the controversial filming of Monica Ali's Brick Lane in east London, erupted yesterday when, in a letter in The Guardian, Rushdie attacked Greer over her support for those trying to block the project. Rushdie described Greer's stance as "philistine, sanctimonious and disgraceful, but not unexpected".
He accused the celebrated feminist of "double racism", and then attacked her over her refusal to sign a petition defending Rushdie at the height of the storm over his The Satanic Verses in the early 1990s. "As I well remember, she has done this before," he wrote. "At the height of the assault against The Satanic Verses, Germaine Greer stated, 'I refuse to sign petitions for this book of his, which was about his own troubles.' She went on to describe me as 'a megalomaniac, an Englishman with dark skin'. Now it's Monica Ali's turn to be deracinated by Germaine."
Greer provoked heated debate last week when she defended Bangladeshi activists who threatened to take to the streets to stop filming of Ali's novel in the area where much of it is set. Her stance drew the scathing riposte from Rushdie, whose 1989 novel gave rise to a fatwah on his life.
In an echo of those protests, some activists in east London have indicated that they would be willing to see copies of Brick Lane burnt. "She [Ali] has the right to freedom of speech; we have the right to burn books," a protester said last week.
Some Bangladeshis, mainly from the Sylhet area in north-eastern Bangladesh, claim the novel portrays them as uneducated and "dirty".
Writing in The Guardian herself last week, Greer attacked Ali for ignoring the feelings of people in the Sylhet community. "As British people know little and care less about the Bangladeshi people in their midst," wrote Greer, "their first appearance as characters in an English novel had the force of a defining caricature."
On Thursday the film's production company, Ruby Films, announced that on police advice it would shoot the remaining scenes at sites away from Brick Lane. However, a demonstration is still due to take place today.
Last night, Greer refused to be riled by Rushdie's words. She told the IoS: "Salman may go on about this as much as he likes. But I believe there should be a public debate on the subject."
Brick Lane, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003, follows a Bangladeshi woman as she moves to London, marries a Bengali man, and has two children. The book made Ali, 38, an overnight literary sensation.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers recruited by the Shia Houthi rebels who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...