Rushdie to appear by video at book fest

Rushdie to appear by video at book fest

JAIPUR - Agence France-Presse
Rushdie to appear by video at book fest

Salman Rushdie. AFP Photo

British author Salman Rushdie is to address an Indian literature festival by video link after he was forced to pull-out in person because of protests by Islamic hardliners, organizers said yesterday.

Rushdie’s appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival was cancelled on Ja. 20, with the Indian-origin writer citing alleged threats to his life from underworld gunmen who had been hired to kill him.

Earlier this month, an influential Islamic seminary in northern India triggered the controversy by calling for him to be denied entrance to the country because of his allegedly blasphemous 1988 novel “Satanic Verses.” “Salman Rushdie will address the Jaipur Literature Festival through video conference,” Sanjoy Roy, producer of the festival, told AFP, adding that he would talk today at 3:45 pm.

Since cancelling his scheduled appearances, Rushdie has accused the police of fabricating the death threat plot to keep him away from the festival, India’s biggest literature event.

In an editorial yesterday, The Hindu newspaper said the author, who was born in Mumbai, was “entitled to a full apology for this shameful episode and to an unconditional assurance that he is welcome in India at any time and place”.

The newspaper said that the three men alleged to have been involved in the assassination plot were not a threat and said the episode had “brought about the humiliation of the country”.

Rushdie’s 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” which is banned in India, is seen by many Muslims worldwide as a blasphemous work that insults their religion.

Four authors who read excerpts from the book at the Jaipur event to protest the treatment of Rushdie have since left on the advice of the organisers, who faced a police investigation.

Rushdie, who appeared at the Jaipur festival without incident in 2007, spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death over the novel.