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Rushdie Decries 'Mindset Of The Fanatic' That Sparks Anti-American Protests

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Anti-American demonstrations tied to the film Innocence of Muslims spread to Afghanistan's capital today, where a thousand or so men and boys shouted "death to America!," burned cars and threw stones at police.

From Kabul, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported on Morning Edition that about 20 police officers were injured before authorities succeeded in breaking up the demonstration. The violence in Afghanistan was sparked in part, of course, by anger over the anti-Islam film, which was posted on YouTube this summer and sparked outrage after it was translated into Arabic. The filmmaker who has been linked to the video, 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, lives in Southern California.

Anger over a NATO airstrike that Afghan officials say killed eight women also may have played a role in the Kabul protest.

Other protests that some have tied to outrage over the film have turned deadly. In Libya last week, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died when the consulate in Benghazi was attacked.

While the protest in Kabul today was violent, NPR's Leila Fadel and Michele Kelemen spoke earlier on Morning Edition about howthe demonstrations seemed to subside over the weekend across the Middle East and Africa. Still, as they noted, tensions remain high. There's also this: "The influential leader of the Lebanon-based Shia Muslim militant group, Hezbollah, has called for fresh protests over an anti-Islam film," the BBC writes.

And also on Morning Edition, author Salman Rushdie — who for more than two decades has been a marked man because Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared that his book The Satanic Verses was "against Islam" and that Rushdie was therefore "sentenced to death" — shared his view about the people responsible for such violence.

It is the "mindset of the fanatic, mindset of the tyrant" to respond to an insult to one's religion with violence, Rushdie told host Steve Inskeep. "To murder people who had nothing to do with it," he added, is a "deeply uncivilized attitude."

"Something has gone wrong inside the Muslim world," Rushdie continued. Just a few decades ago, he said, major cities in the Arab and Muslim world were outward-looking. But "in the last half century, these cultures seem to have slid backwards into medievalism and represssion. ... It is one of the great self-inflicted wounds."

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