Salman Rushdie slammed for saying a 'free Palestinian state' would be 'Taliban-like'

Salman Rushdie slammed for saying a 'free Palestinian state' would be 'Taliban-like'
Rushdie said it was 'strange' that student protesters seemingly 'show support for Hamas', amid worldwide university protests.
3 min read
21 May, 2024
Rushdie claimed a free Palestinian state ruled by Hamas 'would be a client of Iran' [Getty/file photo]

Controversial British-American author Salman Rushdie has sparked outrage by suggesting that a free Palestinian state would be inevitably governed by Hamas and "Taliban-like" in its essence.

Speaking to German broadcaster RBB on Sunday, Rushdie said that a Hamas-governed Palestinian state would also be a "client of Iran".

The Indian-born author claimed that it was "strange" that students worldwide would "support a fascist terrorist group", following the large student protest movement against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza which has swept the US, Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

Rushdie said it "bothered him" that the rallies have not "made mention of Hamas", as the Palestinian group carried out the initial attack on southern Israel on October 7.

"They [the students] demand free Palestine – liberate Palestine. I have been in favour of a separate Palestinian state most of my life," he said. "But if there were a Palestinian state now, it would be run by Hamas and we would have a Taliban-like state. A satellite state of Iran."

"Is this what the progressive movements of the Western left want to create?" he added.

The author, whose 1988 book The Satanic Verses caused widespread outrage in the Muslim world, was in Germany promoting his new autobiographical work Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, which recounts the 2022 stabbing attack on him, which left with him blind in one eye.

Academic Gerry Hassan said Rushdie's comments were "terrible" and "Palestinian statehood is recognised by the world and denied by Israeli since 1948.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist movement that has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a brief conflict with secular rival Fatah. Its presence in the West Bank is limited, and in Gaza it has not imposed sharia law, saying that it only wishes to set a "pious example". 

Jewish-Hungarian pro-Palestinian activist Anita Zsurzsan said: "Cultural elites like Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith need to defend the Western liberal hegemonic world order even if it includes a literal genocide because this is the system that rewards them. They are part of the structure of imperialist dominance."

Rushdie's comments were widely shared by right-wing and far-right commentators, as well by Israeli diplomat David Saranga.

Despite his comments, Rushdie acknowledged the massive death toll in the war-battered Gaza Strip, which stands at 35,562 as of Monday.

"The fact is that any normal person can only be shocked by what is happening in Gaza right now, by the level of innocent deaths," he told the German tabloid.

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The Israeli army has been relentlessly bombing Gaza for over seven months, targeting schools, hospitals and refugee camps, while imposing a siege that has left the territory on the verge of starvation.

Across the globe, protesters - students and non-students alike - have been marching in protest at Israel's actions and calling for a "Free Palestine".

German authorities have been cracking down on pro-Palestinian solidarity in the country, while Germany has backed Israel throughout the military onslaught.

Many of Rushdie’s works have been the subject of controversy over the decades.

In 1988, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie urging "Muslims of the world rapidly to execute the author and the publishers of the book", following the release of The Satanic Verses, which was widely seen as denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.