In the latest chapter in a literary fight, Muslim clerics once more have raised a protest to a planned trip to India by famed author Salman Rushdie. It’s been an ongoing saga for 23 years.
Rushdie, the author of “The Satanic Verses,” is due to travel to India this month to attend a book festival, the Jaipur Literature Festival. A Muslim seminary, however, has called on the government to cancel Rushdie’s visa and bar him entry to the country.
Hardline Islamic clerics became infuriated by the 1988 publication of “The Satanic Verses.” In it, Rushdie portrayed the prophet Muhammad as a flawed character, which some Muslims considered blasphemous.
India’s best-known Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband, said Monday that two decades have yet to remove the insult. Rushdie “hurt the sentiments of Muslims the world over,” Deoband said, and the author should not be allowed to enter India. Deoband threatened that if the government does not cancel Rushdie’s visa, he will “write to the external affairs ministry, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi” about it.
Rushdie does not seem terribly worried. His curt reply to Deoband appeared on Twitter Tuesday:
Rushdie has a British passport, but is of Indian origin allowing him to enter the country without a visa.
Rushdie has written a number of other fictional works set on the Indian subcontinent, and over the course of his career has become the most hated or beloved author in the country, depending on whom you ask.
The author was in hiding for a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published. The novel invited a fatwa from Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who said it insulted Islam, Mohammed and the Koran. The fatwa, or religious ruling, called for anyone to kill Rushdie on site. Since then, Rushdie has become an outspoken proponent of free speech and dissent.
He will be giving a speech at the literary festival on “Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The Chutneyfication of English.” It will be his second appearance at the festival. In 2007, his trip was also met with protests by Muslim groups, and with little care by the author.
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