I have read the two essays written by the two famous writers Carlos Fuentes and Norman Mailer with great interest: They justly condemn Ayatollah Khomeini’s irrationality and defend Rushdie’s right to freedom of imagination (Op-Ed Page, Feb. 24).
I do also defend Rushdie’s right, but I do have some reservations about this famous writer.
Was it really necessary for Rushdie to write the novel “The Satanic Verses,” in which he offends the faith of 1 billion Muslims? What does he gain by undermining their faith? He finds the Islamic religious life full of practices, ceremonies, traditions and concepts from which the spirit seems to have departed: What revolts him is that they are often based on fraud. And to Rushdie’s cosmopolitan and intellectual mind, all this sphere of Islamic traditions, from Mohammed’s wives to the appearance of the angel Gabriel, displays itself as a terrible scene of human stupidity and superstition.
I am not an Islamic scholar, but still I have the right to make some observations based on common sense. It seems to me that religious observances, traditions and even customs may contain valuable sentiments of unexpressed and unformulated piety. We cannot all be philosophers so that our faith may be based on a rational and scientific basis: Good will counts too.
This does not mean that I am against the freedom of imagination, but I am in favor of a freedom of imagination which respects the profound sensibilities of a billion people.
ANGELO A. DE GENNARO