PESHAWAR - A major Pakistani university has withdrawn two books of controversial British writer Salman Rushdie following protestors from students, teachers and religious parties in the south Asian Muslim country.
The University Syndicate has decided that no book of Salman Rushdie will be taught at the university, Dr Ameer Nawab, a member of the academic council of Peshawar University, told OnIslam.net.
The university, the largest in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa province on borders with Afghanistan, had earlier decided Rushdie's two books Shame and Midnight Children in the list of reference books for MPhil and PhD students.
But the move has sparked protests from students and teachers as well as religious parties in the province.
The Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), the country's largest student organization, Jamiat Talaba Arabia, which represents students from madrassahs (religious seminaries), All Pakistan Teachers Association, university teachers' association and other organizations had threatened countrywide protest demonstrations against the Peshawar University on May 1.
University students had also threatened to boycott the classes for indefinite period from May 2, if the decision was not withdrawn.
Earlier, the university administration did not take the protest of university teachers who had objected the inclusion of these books in the university courses, a senior university official told OnIslam.net, wishing not o be named.
However, when the news was leaked to some newspapers and students of English department protested against their chairman, then the administration had an idea about gravity of the issue.
This is true that a majority of the academic council members had rejected the proposal, but some secular members of the council who are privy to the vice chancellor of the university still managed to get the books included in the courses, the official said.
Rushdie is a controversial writer who authored a blasphemous fiction, Satanic Verses in 1988.
He was forced 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.
Rushdie was honored by Britain with Knighthood title, sparking anger in several Muslim countries.
The university argued that the introduction of Rushdie's books were a proposal by the department chairman.
It was a proposal from the chairman of English department that these two books should be included in the MPhil and PHD courses as reference books, Dr Nawab said.
However there was not much discussion on that (proposal) as the academic council members immediately rejected that.
He insisted that he was surprised to see that the controversial books remained part of the approved list of courses by the academic council despite their opposition.
The proposer (Chairman English department) was of the view that Rushdie's (two) books are a mere literary work, which should be read by the students of World English Literature (a new course introduced by the university), he said.
But, we raised the point he (Rushdie) is a controversial writer who is deeply disliked in the Muslim world. Therefore, there is no need to include his books in the course.
The protest prompted the university syndicate to hold an emergency meeting to set aside the decision to include Rushdie's books.
It was not an academic council's decision. It was just the decision of a few members, who consider Rushdie as a great English writer, the university official said.
Dr Nawab argued that Rushdie is not a heavyweight writer.
Rushdie has no literary value. According to some native English writer, He (Rushdie) should be punished for bad English, he opined.There are a plenty of non-native English writer, whose works could be include in the university courses.