Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Remembering a man of piece

With this post, I am joining Robert Spencer's appeal to mark the 15th anniversary of Hitoshi Igarashi's murder(http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/011820.php; the photo is also from there).
Don't know who he was? I am pasting his very short Wilipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitoshi_Igarashi):
"Hitoshi Igarashi (...1947July 11, 1991) was the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses.
After Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of "the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur'an, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content...", he was stabbed to death on July 11 1991 at his workplace, the University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki."
Hitoshi Igarashi is usually remembered anonymously just as The Satanic Verses' Japanese translator. I have imagined him either a champion of free speech or a hard-working expert whose professional honour forbade him to succumb to fear. The truth was quite different - I am citing Spencer again:
"Igarashi, known to be one of Japan's leading young Islamic scholars, a man who had lived in Iran, decided to translate The Satanic Verses to act as a mediator between Khomeini (and the Muslim world) and Rushdie...
Igarashi's translation was not an attempt to force the Muslim world to accept the Western value of freedom of expression in an absolute form. It was a third-party effort to show common, middle ground, in order to end the conflict.
For his search for common ground, a kind of search that is suggested almost everyday now in media and politics in the Netherlands and other western countries as the right approach towards the jihadists, he paid with his life.
And that shows the effectiveness of that approach. Those who are calling for us to do the same thing now should take heed.
Remember him on July 11 and say to the jihadists: No more.
And may his memory be eternal."
Here are some of the comments to this article: "I think I'll pass on celebrating Mr. Igarashi's efforts. I find Theo Van Gogh a more suitable martyr, someone who paid a horrendous price for daring to pursue freedom of speech in his own land." "Mr. Igarashi was a tragically flawed, pathetic figure. But I do not mourn tragically flawed, pathetic figures. I mourn fallen heroes."
I understand these opinions, words of people in the middle of a war. Just look at the photo - Hitoshi Igarashi seems a man of another era, of another world, possibly a world which could never become a reality. 15 years after the burtal murder of this man of piece, it seems that piece itself has been killed and cannot be resurrected.

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