Whose community?

Listening to my father last night in outrage, instead stepping into the eye of the storm, I managed to listen with relative equanimity to get to the heart of why he was angry.  'Imagine' presented by Alan Yentob dedicated a whole program to Salman Rushdie.  My father kept asking me if it was the anniversary of the Fatwa, hence all the media being blasted with his history.  Much to his annoyance he came back into the living room to tell me that "It´s his new biography".
         Having spent some years growing up in a middle class leafy suburb on the outskirts of Bradford, I was well aware of the anger of Muslims against Salman Rushdie`s 'Satanic Verses', but I also knew that anger was not exclusively aimed at him and there were many people that suffered, such as my father who had been questioning such hate directed at him.  My father was a lecturer in Literature and had defended Salman Rushdie's book to point where it was dangerous.  He continued to tell me his version of the story, whilst 'Imagine' rolled out a narrative that the burning of Salman Rushdie book was about blocking free speech.  Having been in the middle of it during those years, my father continued to tell me that it wasn`t about free speech, the Muslims that he had asked, "Why are you angry"? had told him that it was because Rushdie was seen to be the voice of the community, when he had had more privileges that the majority of Muslims that were struggling to even get a job even though they were well qualified and educated because their name was Khan.
    After a deafening protest the decibels lowered as he collapsed onto the chair exhausted and exasperated at the hopelessness of never being heard.  I urged him to write about it, but he shook his head in defeat saying that no-one would listen.  Feeling sad, I decided since I was the only captive audience I would be his channel. 
      Only being young at the time and not really knowing the full ramifications of what was going on, I still remember being called vicious names by Muslims that were segregated and suffering much discrimination.  They saw me as white therefore the enemy.  However, I also remember playing with some of my best friends who were Muslims, eating japati and walking carefree in the Yorkshire countryside, borderless and free.  As we grew up, things remained that way in school as long as we were together in Set 1, but for one friend, the distance grew when we moved further in the leafy surburbs.  Thinking back I feel and that I lost contact with her, segregation is a big part of feeling isolated and like one doesn`t belong.
    Picking up one of the 12,000 books that occupies every room in father`s house, making it hard to move, I had started to read Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel`s 'Night', the slim and horrifying volume of his last days in the small town in Romania to Buchenwald to eventual freedom.  His accounts reveal how his father would not let him die. He challenged his spirit in its childhood shell to keep on.."Don`t you dare give up" came out of his horrific tales. 
  I have been reading Salman Rushdie`s children`s book 'Luka and the Fire of Life' thoroughly enjoying his skilled writing and only yesterday was I telling my father at such empathy I felt for him as his told the story of rats that were constantly being offended.  I still do, it is a terrible thing that happened to Rushdie and my father agrees with me, telling me at length how he defended the book in his English literature lectures, however there is another story that needs to be told--that of what was really at the heart of anger in Bradford. 
     Many of the people speaking on Imagine last night had never come near Bradford to actually question and interview those Muslims and ask them why, partly because it was so dangerous for them--my father was there and he did ask them--what he got was quite a different story. 
    If we dare to speak for a community, any community, we must understand the great responsibility this entails and that we are really being a multitude of voices, speaking from within, not from a high position outside the community.  Yes, it was horrible what happened, the Fatawa against Rushdie was wrong, however it is important to understand when we give an account of history, to reveal many sides of the story.  The ramifications for only telling one side of a story huge and whole narratives that are constructed from this may cause more damage than good.  There are many voices that need to be heard, not just one intellectual.