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Rushdie Cancels India Visit, Muslims Happy

Published: 21/01/2012 01:43:47 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Indian Muslim groups welcomed on Friday, January 20, the cancellation of controversial author Salman Rushdie's visit to the Jaipur Literary fes (more)

CAIRO - Indian Muslim groups welcomed on Friday, January 20, the cancellation of controversial author Salman Rushdie's visit to the Jaipur Literary festival, annulling earlier plans for Friday peaceful protests.

"We welcome the move because it is related with religious sentiments of all the Muslims," Mohammad Salim, National Secretary of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, told The Indian Express.

"We were against the particular author not against the festival," he said.

“We see Rushdie as a criminal from religious point of view because he wrote objectionable things about our Prophet. Freedom of expression does not give right to write or say anything as Rushdie did.”

Rushdie had been scheduled to attend on Asia's largest literary festival in historic Jaipur city from January 20-24.

Planning a speech on the festival's opening day on Friday, he pulled out of the festival suddenly, saying he feared assassination after his participation was opposed by senior Muslim scholars.

"I have now been informed by intelligence sources... that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to eliminate me," the Indian-born writer said in a statement read by the producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Sanjoy Roy, Reuters reported.

Voicing doubts about the accuracy of the intelligence reports, Rushdie said it would be irresponsible to attend the festival in such circumstances.

"Irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience and my fellow writers. I will therefore not come to Jaipur as planned," his statement said.

Rushdie would instead participate via a video-link, festival director William Dalrymple told Reuters Friday.

"This is the result of a tragic game of Chinese whispers," Dalrymple told reporters.

“The reality of Rushdie's writings are completely different from the way they have been cartooned and caricatured.”

Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for two decades after Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 for killing him for blaspheming Islam in his book The Satanic Verses.

The annual Jaipur festival, which is free to attend, has mushroomed into a major literary, business and social occasion that attracts tens of thousands of Indian and foreign visitors.


The Muslim leaders denied Rushdie's claims about assassination plots, confirming they only planned peaceful protests against the visit.  

"As far as the intelligence inputs are concerned, we doubt it. I take it as mere a drama by the author," Salim said.

"We had planned peaceful but unprecedented mass protests against his visit but of course anti-social elements sometime try to create disturbances and we did not want anything like that to happen so we apprised the organizers as well as the local administration about our apprehension yesterday," he said.

Mohammad Nazimuddin, another representative confirmed that they had only planned peaceful protests.

Nazimuddin said, "protests were certain and inevitable because it is not a personal matter, it is the matter of the entire community".

“None would like to hear anything about his religious prophet so is the reason of our protest.”

After Friday prayers about 200 Muslims briefly shouted slogans against Rushdie near a mosque in central Jaipur.

Mosque leaders and city authorities tried to prevent any demonstration but a group of young Muslims gathered nearby and started chanting.

Muslims constitute an estimated 19 per cent of the state's voters.

There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.

Reproduced with permission from