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The chilling attack on Salman Rushdie, we are authoritatively informed by Iran’s foreign ministry, was entirely his fault.

It had nothing in the slightest to do with the Fatwa issued on 14 February 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s Supreme Leader, or even the reward of $3 million offered for his murder.


The Fatwa included a religious death warrant for “all the editors and publishers” of the novel who were “aware of its contents.” The Italian and Japanese translators of the book were stabbed. A mob tried to burn the Turkish translator to death. The Norwegian publisher of the book was shot three times.

I am not a scholar of Islam and I have never read any of Rushdie’s works including the Satanic Verses. I am though as a writer and author concerned by this ultimate intolerance of others’ opinions and views.

British police are investigating a threat to J. K. Rowling that arrived immediately after the stabbing of Sir Salman. It read, “Don’t worry…you’re next.”

The author of Harry Potter did not insult one of the world’s great religions and by implication, G-d Himself. Her crime is far worse. She has stood firmly on the side of women arguing, clearly and cogently, that a “trans” person should be afforded respect and dignity, but that someone born a biological woman is a biological woman and that is that.

For Trans activists this unforgivable heresy has made her the target of one of the most vicious and evil campaigns of the entire modern Cancel Culture era. She has had to endure insults, threats and has been a victim of “Doxxing”; the act of publishing private personal information about an individual, usually online, to enable others to take action against them.

Rowling has been deserted and abandoned by a host of media personalities. Even two of the three child actors she made millionaires and whose careers she launched, turned on her and joined the lynch mob.

For the fanatics among Ms. Rowling’s tormentors are every bit as extreme and deranged as those who engaged in the tortures of the Inquisition, Medieval witch burnings and their nearest and most recent relatives, German and Italian fascists and Russian and Chinese Communists.

Book burnings and academic purges were the hallmark of both the twentieth century’s extremes, right and left. Some of the greatest minds of the time were driven from universities to become, if they were lucky, refugees or if unlucky, concentration camp inmates in Poland or Siberia.

The truth of the fanatic’s belief is right, pure and above questioning. Its canon demands total obedience and evangelical fervor. Deviants are punished and purged as ruthlessly today as they have been in the most repressive of totalitarian regimes of the past.

The most obvious examples are in the spheres of government bureaucracy, academia and the media. You may have noticed in filling out a form recently, that you are asked what your gender (lots of choices!) or preferred pronoun is. Mention in any of those other two worlds that J. K. Rowling may have a point, and you can collect your personal belongings and clear your desk faster than you can say “Ayatollah.”

It takes truly remarkably brave individuals to stand up against fanatical regimes and their mobs. Names like Anatoly Sharansky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Aung San Suu Kyi come to mind. There will be countless others in China who we will never hear about that didn’t survive Mao’s Red Guards and his concentration camps or Korea’s Kims and theirs.

And because today’s secular fanatics resemble religious fanatics so much, it will be no surprise that they view other believers who do not take the knee before their altar, as dangerous heretics that have to be brought to the true path or persecuted into submission.

In the UK, devotees of the dominant Secular Theology are increasingly turning their eyes and their ire on Orthodox school systems.

The last few years has seen increasing friction between religious Jewish schools and Ofsted. This is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They proudly declare on their website that they are charged with inspecting services that provide education and skills for learners of all ages. They also inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people. They do not mention that they have found themselves in court when they were sued for overstepping their remit when it comes to religious Jewish schools.

Some of the Jewish schools they have targeted are among the highest achieving of any in the whole of the UK. Yet they have repeatedly suffered Ofsted’s wrath due to a refusal to teach sex education and LGBTQ issues. That is something at the very pinnacle of secular fanatics ten commandments. The argument that none of their parents want any form of sex education taught to their children falls on deaf ears.

The same kind of intrusion into Orthodox schools has already started in the U.S. and particularly in New York. Criticisms seem reasonable, improved secular education (I speak as someone who teaches two degree courses) but those critics are often secular, anti-Orthodox Jews and adherents of all the Left’s beliefs and values.

We have entered a time when the fanatics of the Left have their sights firmly trained on our most precious possessions, our children and our schools. We are going to need remarkably brave individuals to stand up and fight for our beliefs and against theirs.

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Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein is a popular international lecturer. He was a regular Broadcaster on BBC Radio and TV but resigned in 2022 over what he saw as its institutional anti-Semitism. He is the author of fourteen books including most recently, "Never Alone...The book for teens and young adults who've lost a parent."