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Rushdie on India Visit Politicians Boycott

Published: 17/03/2012 01:19:27 PM GMT
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NEW DELHI - Ignoring Muslim's anger and protests, controversial author Salman Rushdie is planning a speech in India on Saturday after protests by Islam (more)

NEW DELHI - Ignoring Muslim's anger and protests, controversial author Salman Rushdie is planning a speech in India on Saturday after protests by Islamic activists forced him to cancel a similar visit to the country two months ago.

"Sir Salman Rushdie will be the gala night speaker tomorrow night," Aroon Purie, chairman of the India Today media group, told delegates on Friday, March 16, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

Rushdie will deliver an hour-long address Friday as part of a two-day conference in New Delhi on Asia's future, organized by India Today media group.

At the event, Rushdie would give a speech titled “The Liberty Verses: I am What I am and That's All That I am”.

The controversial author had been scheduled to attend 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.

He attacked the Muslim clerics behind the protests and also Indian politicians for failing to stand up to them.

"I will come to India many times... and I will not allow these religious gangsters and their cronies in the government to prevent me," Rushdie said in a television interview from London during the book festival.

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

Muslims make up about 13 percent of India's population, the third largest Islamic population after Indonesia and Pakistan.


Protesting the visit, different Pakistani speakers decided to boycott the event attended by Rushdie.

New Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced on Thursday that "official engagements" will stop him from attending the conference, BBC reported.

Yadav's announcement follows the decision of Pakistani politician Imran Khan to withdraw from the conference.

"He expressed his regrets to the organizers but stated categorically that he could not even think of participating in any program that included [Salman] Rushdie who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims around the globe," said the statement by Khan's Pakistan Movement for Justice party.

Khan, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician, has recently emerged as a major political voice in neighboring Pakistan.

The statement said Khan had "received and seen" the program on Tuesday evening, and took the decision soon after.

Khan added that the author had "caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims".

Indian Islamic groups have repeated their opposition to Rushdie visiting India, but declined to say whether they planned to protest at the luxury hotel where the conference is being held.

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