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Muslim group opposes Rushdie's India visit

Darul Uloom Deoband says the author has hurt sentiments of Muslims the world over and his visit would be like adding salt to the injuries

Salman Rushdie's proposed visit to Jaipur for the Literary Festival has come under cloud with the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband yesterday saying that the Booker-prize winning author should not be allowed on Indian soil because he has "hurt the sentiments of Muslims the world over".


The author has been in India twice since the controversy. His first visit in
2000 created a flutter in the media. The writer was escorted around with
unprecedented security. file pics


"If he visits India, it would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims. He has hurt our religious sentiments," said Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, vice chancellor of Deoband, India's most influential Islamic seminary,
Nomani said the Darul Uloom was yet to formally write to the government on the issue. "We will write to the external affairs ministry, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi if the government doesn't cancel his visa," Nomani said.

However, one of the organisers of the festival said Rushdie's visit was on as scheduled. "A literature festival is a place for free speech in the best democratic tradition without being insulting to anybody, without causing any harm to the sentiments of any section or group of people. If there are people who feel any particular angst about the presence of Salman Rushdie, perhaps they should revisit his work... and debate its merit or other issues at a platform which is mutually acceptable," said Sanjoy Roy, MD of Teamworks Productions, which produces the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Rushdie has been invited to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival from January 20 to 24. He is expected to take part in literary sessions on Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The Chutneyfication of English and Shehar aur Sapna: The City as a Dream.

In 2007, Rushdie attended the festival at Jaipur. The visit came despite protests by some Muslim groups.

The controversy
The 65-year-old author was under attack by Islamic hardliners for his controversial book The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, for "alleged blasphemy" against Prophet Mohammed.

The novel triggered controversy soon after it was published and India was among the first countries to ban the book.

It also invited a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran. Khomeini in February 1989 called for the death of Rushdie and his publishers.

The fatwa was later revoked on Sep 24, 1998.

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