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Blocking Rushdie shameful (Editorial in Deccan Chronicle)

18 January 2012

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Deccan Chronicle


January 18, 2012

By objecting to Salman Rushdie’s participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Darul Uloom of Deoband has not covered itself in glory. That the country’s premier body of Islamic learning has seen it fit to get involved in petty sectarian matters is shameful and shocking. Salman Rushdie has been coming to India regularly for many years, and as a “Person of Indian Origin” doesn’t even need a visa. Indeed, he attended the same festival once earlier without any trouble whatsoever. Yet the Darul Uloom chose to rake up a needless controversy, which was inevitably picked up by obscure busybodies in Rajasthan claiming to speak on behalf of Muslims. That appears to have given an excuse to the Rajasthan government to invoke fears of a possible law and order situation and try to “persuade” the festival’s organisers to withdraw the invitation to Mr Rushdie. While the organisers claim the invitation remains open, Mr Rushdie’s participation now looks doubtful. The Ashok Gehlot government’s craven attitude is, of course, fairly typical of administrations everywhere. West Bengal’s former CPM government had also quickly buckled under pressure when some Muslims objected to Taslima Nasreen’s presence, and asked her to leave Kolkata. Such an attitude goes against the democratic and secular letter and spirit.


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