Rushdie to return to India after death threats

Published: March 13, 2012
Author withdrew from Jaipur Literature Festival in January after some Muslims threatened to disrupt gathering. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Author withdrew from Jaipur Literature Festival in January after some Muslims threatened to disrupt gathering. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

NEW DELHI: British author Salman Rushdie is to speak at a conference in India on Friday, organisers have announced, two months after death threats forced him to pull out of a literature festival in the country.

Rushdie, whose 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” is still banned in India for allegedly blaspheming Muslims, is due to address the India Today Conclave in New Delhi on Friday afternoon, event officials said.

The author withdrew from the Jaipur Literature Festival in January after some Muslims threatened to disrupt the gathering and police told him assassins from the Mumbai underworld were plotting to kill him.

The 64-year-old writer, who was born in Mumbai, spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death over “The Satanic Verses”.

According to the conference website, Rushdie’s one-hour appearance on Friday will be titled “The Liberty Verses – I am What I am and That’s All That I am”.

“I can confirm Mr Rushdie will be attending in person,” an event official told AFP on Tuesday, declining to give her name.

After Rushdie was forced to abandon his trip to Jaipur, he vented his fury against Muslim activists and the Indian politicians who had failed to stand up to them.

“I will come to India many times, as I choose, to do what I will, and I will not allow these religious gangsters and their cronies in the government to prevent me,” he said in a television interview from London.

Rushdie, who won the Booker prize for his 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children”, suggested police claims of an underworld plot may have been invented to prevent him attending the festival and to avoid antagonising Muslims.

He said he suspected the protests were connected to state elections in Uttar Pradesh, where about 18 percent of the population is Muslim. The elections have now been completed.

Muslim groups behind the campaign in Jaipur were not immediately available to comment on Rushdie’s planned appearance, but they have previously called for him to be banned from visiting India.

Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor and US former diplomat Henry Kissinger are also due to speak during the two-day event at the luxury Taj Palace hotel.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • PakiKaka
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Self styled messiah and Islamist Mr. Imran Khan misses no opportunity whatsoever to visit India and indulge in fun and frolic… God save us from him


  • from India
    Mar 13, 2012 - 3:51PM

    welcome Mr. Rushdie :-)


  • Mumbai Dude
    Mar 13, 2012 - 3:51PM

    Freedom of speech wins.


  • arqum
    Mar 13, 2012 - 6:26PM

    Wow! Muslims in India are protesting against Rushdie coming to their country and some, more extremist ones are threatning to kill him. Mr Revolutin Imran khan however, has no problem attending the same event! wow! talk about the dichotomy of words and action..


  • Mar 13, 2012 - 8:41PM

    He was born in Mumbai and the people of Mumbai will not object to his presence there.


  • Noor Rehman
    Mar 13, 2012 - 9:33PM

    I’m actually interested in viewing Imran Khan’s interaction with Salman Rushdie.Recommend

  • Antanu g
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:24PM

    Indians don’t need to hear from Mr Rushdie or to meet with him. We are planning a protest march in kolkotta. We will not let him enter West Bengal.


  • Bengali
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:27PM

    @Antanu… first get the spelling of kolkata right. Second Kolkata is my city too – he is most welcome, we’ll see how anybody stops him


  • Bangladeshi
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:41PM

    INDIA again proves that they are Islam Haters. This rusdie guy insulted the religion of 1.5 Bn people and here Secular indians are celebrating it. Indians are only interested since he wrote against ISLAM. Had he wrote against any other religion Indians
    wouldn’t have given Damn. Ain’t I right Indians?


  • Ehsan
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:00AM


    Indian muslims are not emotional and fanatic. We believe in freedom of speech.

    He wrote a book of satires against all religion of world.
    If I say you are bad,does it make you bad, Please understand value of tolerance and learn to live peacefully taking positive and negative criticism.


  • Deepwater
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:01AM

    “INDIA again proves that they are Islam Haters”

    By your logic, the West hates Islam too since that is where Salman has been living most of his lives. In which case, what do you tell all the Pakistanis or Bangladeshis wanting to emigrate to the West? What do you tell millions of people employed in your country that are making goods for the Western markets? Your computer probably is made with western technology? Are you a hypocritical Islam hater too?

    Seems like you can’t grasp the concept of free speech and religious tolerance. We live in a world where we can disagree with each others views but still respect each others rights as well as the right to co-exist peacefully..


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 12:36AM

    I think you should direct this question to those bangladeshis who are settled in Mumbai! Those who ran away from East Pakistan in 1971!


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 12:47AM

    @Noor Rehman:
    What interaction? They will eat and drink and make merry! It is Mumbai! Raat ko baarah baje din nikaltaa hai subah ko chey baje raat hoti hai! You know the song! Imran khan and Rushdie will be on their best behaviour you will see for yourself!!


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 12:52AM

    India has a diverse population. Indians can be Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Tibetans, Sikhs, Arabs, Afghans, Bangladeshis, jews, Iranis etc etc. Ask this question to each and everybody. Phir anjaam sochlena!!


  • Domlurian
    Mar 14, 2012 - 1:08AM

    Antanu g, when are you getting on the next bus to Dacca?


  • ayesha_khan
    Mar 14, 2012 - 1:34AM

    @Bangladeshi: “Wrong”

    MF Husain painted things that were deeply offensive to Hindus. So Hindus did a case against him in the court. Also in India the penalty would not have been death sentence even if he had been convicted. Anyway Hussain did not want to face the court proceedings so he moved to Oman. But there were no death threats against him by ANYONE.And remember his paintings were deeply offensive to Hindus who constitute the majority in India.

    Also there plenty of Indian (including Hindus) who actually defended his freedom of speech.

    Finally when you say Indians are against Islam, I am not sure what you mean I am a proud Indian and a proud Muslim. There are 150 milion of us who are surely not anti-Islam. Also while there maybe some fringe haters – majority of non-Muslim Indians are fair and not anti-minority. This is why Muslim population as percentyage of total has grown in India since 1947. Hindu and Sikh population in Pakistan has drastically shrunk since 1947


  • Xcaret
    Mar 14, 2012 - 1:55AM

    @Antanu g:
    Dear sir, aren’t you a Bangladeshi living in KOLKATA for better economic opportunities, as per your comment regarding another article on ET?


  • Ammad
    Mar 14, 2012 - 2:23AM

    This man is a dog. Those who say it is freedom of speech and he just wrote a satire book on all religions should know that making fun of something as sacred as a religion can never be called a freedom of speech. Religion is too sacred to write satire on.


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 4:13AM

    Send him wherever he is from! We dont want these people in India.


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 6:19AM

    It would be relevant to bear in mind the time line for banning of Salman Rushdi’s book The Satanic Verses,

    The ban was initiated by India, later followed by other countries

    On October 5, 1988 India sets the ball rolling

    November 21, 1988: Egypt

    January 1989: Pakistan & Bangla Desh

    February 14, 1989: Iran


  • vasan
    Mar 14, 2012 - 6:38AM

    antanu g : Who gave u the right to speak for all Indians. You can restrict it to yourself.
    Welcome MR Rushdie. If and when Salmon Rushdie comes to Calcutta, you can jump on to a bus to Dacca as another blogger suggested


  • Kumar
    Mar 14, 2012 - 7:03AM

    As an Indian, I don’t want Rushdie to land on our soil. He abused the religion of our Muslim’s brothers. He’ll be killed !!!

    I don’t understand why Imran Khan will be in the conference, he is also against Rushdie. Imran Khan’s followers in Pakistan will definitely get angry as their leader is going to participate the conference in which anguish, narrow-minded, biased, prejudiced Rushdie will participate.

    As Imran’s follower, I hope Imran will boycott the conference.


  • Asad
    Mar 14, 2012 - 7:34AM

    I don’t understand ET’s obsession with Salman Rushdie and his trip to India. So called liberals need to give more space to real stories affecting their own country.


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 8:37AM

    @Antanu g,

    Who are you to tell me whom I should visit or not visit?

    I supported MF Hussain’s right to stay in India and paint as he wishes and will do so with Salman Rushdie.

    Can you quote me one passage from the book which is blasphemous? I’ve read the book and I challenge you.


  • Mar 14, 2012 - 8:39AM

    Can someone quote me one passage from Satanic Verses which maybe considered blasphemous?

    All he speaks of is how people can be fooled and argues convincingly. Mullahs cannot stand that.


  • ZYX
    Mar 14, 2012 - 8:43AM

    I propose ET simply move over to India. There are always more Indian commentators on ET than Pakistanis, possibly because ET censors the views of most Pakistanis and doesn’t do the same to Indians. All of ET’s content is as anti-Pakistani as any rabid Indian paper…..Recommend

  • Mr. Righty rightist
    Mar 14, 2012 - 10:09AM

    @Antanu G

    You have been exposed to be a non-Indian on numerous times, yet you resurface calling yourself an Indian.

    Are you like one of those poisonous Mashrooms?


  • ashish
    Mar 14, 2012 - 10:14AM

    we indians think we are america stye democracy. no, its not.
    there are lines drawn which need to be respected . this is crucial time in india where right wing as well as home grown jihadist movements are on increase. dont inflame them even more.

    half the countrymen dont even have toilets and these guys talk about ‘freedom of speech’.


  • Iram
    Mar 14, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Indians, where this freedom speech goes when somebody utter a word against Sachin Tendulkar, all Indians rush to kill that person who criticize his poor performance. Here we are being advised to be quite on the abuse of our religion, double standard.

    Pakistanis, Imran Khan is the only politician who has ability to deal with people of different idiologies.


  • Indian
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:00PM

    “INDIA again proves that they are Islam Haters. This rusdie guy insulted the religion of 1.5 Bn people and here Secular indians are celebrating it.” – Indians are celebrating Secularism and not anti-Islamism.
    By the way the last paragraph says – “Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor and US former diplomat Henry Kissinger are also due to speak during the two-day event at the luxury Taj Palace hotel.”


  • Indian
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Here we are being advised to be quite on the abuse of our religion, double standard.

    Please tell us what has pakistan done of Zahid Hamid and the likes……….


  • far
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:13PM

    ET is affliated with american newspaper so they always have biased news…they want evryone to fight and debate on nonsense news


  • Kaleem Khan
    Mar 14, 2012 - 3:40PM

    It is just Indian internal issue, we thankful to Imran Khan.
    Allah bless all of us being a muslim.


  • alpha
    Mar 15, 2012 - 2:48PM

    To all those who rant and rave at rushdie : have you read the controversial book? I bet you have not. How do you decide a book is insulting without even reading it? Read the book and decide for yourself instead of insulting your own intelligence by parroting the views of some fanatical old men.


  • Arjun Shetty
    Mar 16, 2012 - 12:51PM

    More and more of us Indians will support Rushdie for what he is –a great world hero and enemy of religious bigotry! Imran Khan is not getting any support in India for such cheap acts.


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