5. Blasphemy… glory to semi talented writers!

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Dālyā Hilāl discusses the promotion of blasphemous writings in the world over the last 20 years.

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Anti-religious writings have flourished over the last 20 years in the international literary arena. Although they are attacked most of the time, fatwás issued against such writings and their authors in the Arab countries further aid their promotion; the raging reactions against such writings contribute to the promotion of literary and artistically poor works on the ground that "forbidden fruit is the sweetest". Nawāl al-Sadāwī’s novel ’Suqūt al-Imām’ [The Fall of the Imam] is an example of such works. The reaction of the Vatican toward Dan Brown’s ’ The Da Vinci Code’ was no less fanatic, however, and this made the novel a bestseller within a few months.
The author refers to two novels written about ‘Ā’ishah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad. The first novel is ’The Jewel of Medina’ by Sherry Jones and the second one is ’Mother of the Believers’ by Kamran Pasha. Although Jones is a writer of moderate value with limited imagination and knowledge and despite the fact that most critics disliked her novel, she was portrayed as a literary genius when some Islamic groups in the world attacked her novel and forced a British publishing house to stop its publication of the novel. On the contrary, Kamran Pasha’s novel which is characterized by historical accuracy in reflecting the enlightened role of ‘Ā’ishah in Islamic history did not receive the same fame that Jones’s novel did.
Some may agree that the death fatwá issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran against Salman Rushdie, the author of ’The Satanic Verses’, and his subsequent fleeing to Britain made of him one of the greatest writers in the West and gave birth to a trend of similar writings. Some critics argue that had Khomeini’s reaction been less fierce, ’The Satanic Verses’ together with its author would have sunk into oblivion.
Some views in the West argue that such controversial works arouse the curiosity of some readers and force them to read and be more knowledgeable. In this way, according to these views, violent reactions toward such writings deprive the reader from a cultural dialectic that enriches their awareness.

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