BEFORE Salman Rushdie moved to the US, there were only two residents in the UK subject to a fatwa – an Islamic decree that can call for an individual's death.

The other was Paigham Mustafa, who criticised the hadiths – quotes attributed to the prophet Muhammad after his death, which some say inspire regressive beliefs within the Muslim community.

When his fatwa was declared, the Glasgow Central Mosque, which issued the order, directly compared Mustafa to Rushdie.

Speaking of the famed author's stabbing attack in New York last week, Mustafa said the anger some Muslims have directed at Rushdie is “beyond [him]”.

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He told The National: “In Rushdie’s case, although his books have been acclaimed, I think they may have died a silent death, had it not been for the sensation caused by fanatical people claiming to be Muslims. Their fire fanned the flames of publicity for Rushdie.

“[The Satanic Verses] is a fictional story, and why Muslims should be angered at this is beyond me. They have shot themselves in the foot.

“The hadith books of Bukhari (traditions of Sunism) have as much or more profanities than Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.”

He added: “It is clear that the knife attack on Rushdie does not reflect Islamic values. This is a vigilante attack and without the support of the Quran.”

And regarding his own safety, Mustafa said that the threat of danger has “always been at the back of [his] mind” and that the lifting of Rushdie’s fatwa proves the irrationality of the violence.

He said: “The point here is that, rescinding the fatwa does not mean that anyone who wants to attack will take that fact into consideration.

“So of course, this is at the back of my mind all the time but I still think that some things need to be said.”

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The attack on Rushdie has lit a fire under the debate on tolerance and free speech but Mustafa says that the line between the two is there to be found.

He said: “Where enquiry is needed for society’s progress, to stifle essential debate is unacceptable. We must understand that provocation is not free speech. There is a difference.

“People often say and do things that are belligerent and designed to provoke. Such things are also unacceptable. Antagonists who start a fire should not then complain about the heat.”

Mustafa has been critical of the Scottish Government’s response to his fatwa and its hate crime laws which he says “are not working for situations like this”.

He believes the problem stems from a fear of being perceived as Islamophobic.

He added: “The main reason is that Police Scotland are not prepared to act against people and institutions (such as mosques) who instigate and carry out such hate. Certainly, this kind of religious hate …

“It just isn’t politically expedient to bring into public this particular hot potato. Unless of course something like the attack on Rushdie in New York happens.”

The National: The attack on Salman Rushdie has lit a fire under the cultural debate on free speechThe attack on Salman Rushdie has lit a fire under the cultural debate on free speech

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government unequivocally condemns any form of hatred or prejudice. Our new Hate Crime Strategy will set out our priorities for tackling hate crime in Scotland and will support implementation of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021.

“Hate crime legislation sends a message to victims, perpetrators and wider society that hate crime is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Once in force the Act will build on and strengthen existing protections.”

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Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: “Police Scotland’s purpose is to improve the safety and wellbeing of people, places and communities in Scotland, focusing on keeping people safe in line with our values of integrity, fairness and respect.

“Hate crimes can have a huge impact on people. They have been targeted because of who they are, or who the offender thinks they are and the attack is very personal.

“This type of crime and discrimination is deplorable and entirely unacceptable and Police Scotland will investigate every report of a hate crime or hate incident, regardless of the religious or cultural background of either the victim or the perpetrator.

“We recognise that hate crime is under-reported, so we would ask anyone who has been a victim, or witnessed an incident, please contact the police, either in person, by telephone or via one of the third-party reporting centres listed on our website.”