Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sebastian Faulks moves to head off Islam row
Novelist whose new book features student drawn into Islamist terror cell, and who has been quoted attacking the Qur'an, apologises for any offence caused
Alison Flood writing in guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 August 2009

'It has no new plan for life' ... Sebastian Faulks. Photograph: Sophia Evans

Sebastian Faulks has moved quickly in an attempt to avert criticism over his comments about the Qur'an, which he was quoted describing as "just the rantings of a schizophrenic" with "no ethical dimension" in an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday.
"While I believe the voice-hearing of many Old Testament prophets and of John the Baptist in the New might well raise psychiatric eyebrows today, it is absurd to suggest that the Prophet, who achieved so much in military and political – quite apart from religious – terms, can have suffered from any acute illness. Only a fully cogent and healthy person could have done what he did," Faulks told the Guardian today. He went on to offer "a simple but unqualified apology to my Muslim friends and readers for anything that has come out sounding crude or intolerant. Happily, there is more to the book than that."
His interview with the Sunday Times also saw him call the Qur'an "a depressing book", which is "one-dimensional", with "no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life". The novelist, who has included the character of a student led astray by an Islamist terrorist cell in his forthcoming book, A Week in December, was also reported to have opined of the Qur'an: "It says 'the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I'm right, and if you don't believe me, tough — you'll burn for ever'."

But today Faulks said that often during an interview the case is overstated "in order to make a point more clearly". "If such an overstatement is taken out of its heavily nuanced context, then pulled out of the printed article and highlighted, it can have a badly distorting effect," he said. "I blame myself more than the reporter – or whichever subeditor thought it was good idea to pull out the more undigested bits and try to make a silly season scandal ... I unreservedly apologise to anyone who does feel offended by comments offered in another context.
The full piece at The Guardian online.

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