In a recent TV address, Muslim Brotherhood cleric Salama Abd Al-Qawi set light to covers of books by Egyptian liberals, in a protest against an incident on April 6, in which Education Ministry officials set light to books in a school linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Lifting up a book cover and setting it on fire, Abd Al-Qawi said: "[Imagine] if I took 'The Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie, and I burned it." Pointing to a photograph of the school visit, he said: "It is these ignorant people who are the real terrorists."
Following are excerpts:
Salama Abd Al-Qawi: Qasim Amin - have you heard of him? Ibrahim Issa, Salman Rushdie, Sayyid Al-Qimni, Farag Foda, Ahmed Abd Al-Muti Hijazi, Nawal Saadawi, Mohamed Salmawy, Hamid Nasr Abu Zayd, Gaber Asfour, and many many others. They have all affronted Islam openly, and this is written in their books. They intentionally tried to destroy Islamic values, and to obliterate any sign of these values.
Imagine if I were to burn a book like this. Just imagine what might be said about me in the media, when I burn books, ideas, so-called 'history,' culture, and opinions. (Imagine) if I took this book, by Ibrahim Issa, and burned it. I am burning ideas, opinions, culture, and freedom of expression. Into the garbage bin of history it goes. (Imagine) if I took The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I burned it. Ideas, culture, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, right?
Of course, it will be said that I am a great big terrorist, and that we are against freedom of opinion and expression. It is not inconceivable that fatwas will be issued, excommunicating us and accusing us of heresy, or that some people will sue us and demand that we be executed, because we burned books that oppose Islam and moral values. They will demand that we be executed, and will talk about us in the media. By the way, I would like to tell you that what we burned just now were only the book covers and not the books themselves. That is the difference between us and them. We do not confront opinions and ideas with iron and fire. It is incumbent upon us - as religious scholars and as Muslims - to oppose ideas with ideas. Those ignorant people with their deviant ideas, conduct, and moral values, are the ones who oppose ideas with burning, with iron, and with fire. The real terrorists are the ones who do this.
The [Egyptian] Education Ministry, as you can see here... It is these ignorant people who are the real terrorists. As you can see, they are the ones who supervise the burning of books in a school belonging to the Education Ministry. Each of them clasps an Egyptian flag in their hands, suggesting that it is patriotism that leads them to burn culture and books. These images remind us of the Mongols and the Crusaders. These are the books that they burned. If you take a look inside these books, you fill find that they were all about morality and about treating others with kindness.