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There’s A Fatwa Against Me

“Now I know what it feels like to be Salman Rushdie,” Ms. X said to me.

She’d never read Satanic Verses, hadn’t written any novel of her own, had never said anything bad, even questionable, about The Prophet, so what was she talking about?

“There’s a fatwa against me,” she responded to my puzzled look.

“A fatwa?”

“Not because of The Prophet – it’s the President.”

“Obama? – you can’t really believe that crap about him being Muslim?”

“Not that President – my President.”

Your President? Isn’t your President the same as my President?”

“No, the President of my co-op,” I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to get to the starting point.

I’d get calls all the time about crazy things done by board members and regular owners alike, but a fatwa in the heart of Chelsea — that was a new one on me.

“There’s a death threat against you?” my voice rose in disbelief.

“Not exactly, he wants to wipe me off the face of the earth, or at least the building, by keeping me off the board. He recruited a bunch of operatives to do his bidding, even got a mole to feed me disinformation to try and trick me up.”

“But you’re on the board.”

“That’s only made him more intent on my destruction, like the Palestinians against the Israelis and the Israelis against the Palestinians.”

“What does he do?”

 “He flashes me a looks-could-kill stare if we’re alone, then pastes on a Cheshire grin in the presence of others.”

“That’s not a fatwa, it sounds more like Jekyll/Hyde syndrome, a disorder not uncommon in co-ops and condos, where people can smile at you then stab you in the back.”

“I’m telling you, he wants to obliterate my existence.”

“Unless he’s got supernatural powers, which I doubt, cause not even The Business Judgment Rule gives him that, it’s a losing battle.”

“Doesn’t stop him from trying. He refuses to send me emails even though I’m on the board, he shuts me off at meetings, and ignores everything I say.”

“That’s probably because he doesn’t know how to respond. Knowledge is power, a weapon that’s underestimated in buildings where lots of times emotion counts more than reason. Sounds like you’re the one with the advantage.”

“I never thought of it that way. Maybe you’re right.”

“Sure I am.”

Should you find yourself the object of a co-op-style fatwa, just remember the fact that anyone would devote so much time to your destruction proves you’ve got real power over him, which, if nothing else, should give you perverse satisfaction.

So be right, and be patient, and eventuall, just like Salman Rushdie, you and your fellow owners will be set free.

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