CAIRO - Controversial British author Salman Rushdie has been invited by Muslim scholars in India for a debate on Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
Instead of opposing his visit to Mumbai, let us invite Rushdie to this city and answer our questions, said Yusuf Muchala, senior lawyer and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), The Times of India reported on Monday, January 28.If he has the guts he should explain to us why he wrote such a blasphemous book.
The invitation to the Indian-origin author came during a seminar on Prophet Muhammad organized by Wahdat-e-Islami Hind NGO on Sunday in Mumbai.
Muchalla, who heads the personal law board's legal cell, appealed to Muslims not to resort to violent protests against Rushdie.
The invitation marks a significant change in the view of Indian Muslims view on Rushdie's visits to India.
Visits by the controversial author to India have always drawn opposition from Muslim groups in the country.
Last year, Wahdat-e-Islami members were among protests who had forced the Rajasthan government to ask Rushdie not to participate in the Jaipur Literary Festival last year.
"Rushdie should listen to the sane voices of the Muslims, Dr Shakil Samdani, a professor of law at Aligarh Muslim University and a speaker at the Wahdat-e-Islami Hind seminar, told the Times of India.
Instead of issuing death threats against him and opposing his visit to India, Muslims must try to engage him in an informed debate.
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.Muslims make up about 13 percent of India's population, the third largest Islamic population after Indonesia and Pakistan.