The novelist VS Naipaul has caused an outcry by comparing the "calamitous effect" of Islam on the world with colonialism.
Sir Vidia, born in Trinidad of Indian parentage, who travelled extensively in the Muslim world for his books Among the Believers and Beyond Belief, launched his attack after a reading of his new book, Half a Life, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Islam, he claimed, had both enslaved and attempted to wipe out other cultures."It has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'."
Sir Vidia claimed what he called "this abolition of the self demanded by Muslims was worse than the similar colonial abolition of identity. It is much, much worse in fact... You cannot just say you came out of nothing." He argued that Pakistan was the living proof of the damage Islam could wreak.
"The story of Pakistan is a terror story actually. It started with a poet who thought that Muslims were so highly evolved that they should have a special place in India for themselves.
"This wish to sift countries of unnecessary and irrelevant populations is terrible and this is exactly what happened in Pakistan."
Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, said Naipaul's outburst showed just how deep his ignorance of Islam was.
"What he says may shock many people here, but it comes as no surprise to those of us who have read his books. He is basically a Hindu nationalist, who has a deep dislike of Muslims, and that is where he is coming from."