LONDON: Accusations of Islamophobia are being levelled at anyone who dares to speak out against the "hate-filled rhetoric" of Islamist fanaticism, Salman Rushdie has claimed in a speech condemning Isil and "this new age of religious mayhem".
Rushdie voiced his fears that the language of "jihadi-cool" is seducing young British Muslims, many via Twitter and YouTube, into joining the "decapitating barbarianism" of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
In his PEN/Pinter Prize Lecture in London, the author said all religions have their extremists but "the overwhelming weight of the problem lies in the world of Islam".
The so-called "jihadi-cool" image romanticises Isil, using rap videos and social networking to recruit followers - posing with AK-47s and bragging about their "five star jihad" in videos showing fighters lounging around in luxury villas as they urged the destruction of the West.
Rushdie defined "jihadi-cool" as "the deformed medievalist language of fanaticism, backed up by modern weaponry".
He said: "It's hard not to conclude that this hate-filled religious rhetoric, pouring from the mouths of ruthless fanatics into the ears of angry young men, has become the most dangerous new weapon in the world today."
He added: "A word I dislike greatly, 'Islamophobia', has been coined to discredit those who point at these excesses, by labelling them as bigots. But in the first place, if I don't like your ideas, it must be acceptable for me to say so, just as it is acceptable for you to say that you don't like mine.
"And in the second place, it's important to remember that most of those who suffer under the yoke of the new Islamic fanaticism are other Muslims ... It is right to feel phobia towards such matters.
"As several commentators have said, what is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events."