It all started way back in 1988 when Salman Rushdie’s published book “The Satanic Verses ” became objectionable to the Islamic hardliners Worldwide and turned controversial for “alleged blasphemy” against Prophet Mohammed. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime minister of India, sensed the fury of minorities in India and the book was banned in the country. In fact India was the first country to impose a ban on “Satanic Verses”
Since then Rushdie paid two visits to India,once in 2000 and in 2007 for the Jaipur Literature Festival despite of the protests from some Muslim groups. When news of his 2012 Festival visit spread, the protesting Muslim group raised their eyebrows and Rushdie decided he would cancel his visit to Jaipur sensing life-threat as some of his Intelligence people informed him of an assassination plot arranged by Mumbai Underworld. He doubted the news but did not wish to risk things . It was then decided Rushdie would attend the festival via video conference on Tuesday at 3:45 pm January 24th 2012. Rumours are spreading that State Police may deny permission for the conference whereas Festival producer Sanjoy Roy declared he had no information about such denial hence they will go ahead with the video-conference as scheduled, till any written confirmation is produced by the police.
Today,24th January2012, it has been cleared that the video-conference has been given the clean-chit on grounds that Rushdie should not be speaking anything on ‘Satanic Verses,
Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has been quite active against Rushdie’s visit to India and forthcoming elections seem to be a major reason why the present Government does not wish to take any risk of hurting Muslim sentiments which might affect their performance in the elections. However , it is very important to realize that lawfully Rushdie who is a British citizen of Indian origin cannot be banned to come to India.
Some facts regarding the hype created over Rushdie’s 2012 visit was purely due to elections and except for few groups who actively wanted Rushdie not to attend the Festival , I doubt if the common Muslim community even bothers about him being here or not. Of course , had the Media not sensationalized the issue , none would have bothered his visit.
We commoners have enough issues to deal with rather than coming out on streets every single day , leaving our duties. Probably the Media-Claimed failure of Anna’s Mumbai Fast was the biggest example.
How many of us have (even in Urban India) read the controversial book which is anyways banned ? How do we know if it is really hurting religious sentiments when the major population of India (including the minorities) lives in Rural India which does not know English beyond some common words ? And has our Governments left us with any free time to go about reading books , leaving our source of earnings ?