Rushdie shrugs off call for ‘blasphemy’
NEW DELHI - Agence France-PresseBritish author Salman Rushdie has dismissed demands by an influential Islamic seminary in India that he should be banned from entering the country to attend a literature festival later this month.
Rushdie, who was threatened with death in a “fatwa” order from Iran over his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” is due to speak in the city of Jaipur alongside fellow writers such as Lionel Shriver and Richard Dawkins.
The Darululoom Deoband seminary, one of the world’s most important Islamic universities, is known for its conservative teachings thought to have shaped the views of some radical Islamist groups such as the Taliban.
Maulana Qasim Nomani, a seminary official, called for India to cancel Rushdie’s visa, saying that “the man whose blasphemous writings have hurt the sentiments of Muslims all over the world must not be allowed to set foot on Indian soil.”
Rushdie responded late on Dec. 9 by pointing out on Twitter that he did not need a visa to visit India.
The novelist spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued the fatwa in 1989 calling for his death for alleged blasphemy against Islam in “The Satanic Verses.”