Salman Rushdie was not allowed to speak to the litterateurs, and their fans gathered at Jaipur literature festival even through a video link today. This is a shame for our country and even more so for our community. Shame for our country because we do not have the resources or the will to protect a literary festival, the best of its kind in the world, from gangsters and Mafiosi and their threats of violence. Shame for our community because we have religious thugs among us who would threaten an innocuous event just because an author who is supposed to have blasphemed our prophet – something we keep doing every day, every minute, routinely, without even realising it, by just being the kind of corrupt people we are, by defying God and giving Islam a bad name through our misconduct. The event was going to be harmless because Salman Rushdie was not going to raise any controversial issue, speak about or read from The Satanic Verses.
It is unfortunate that politicians and media treat as our leaders intellectually-challenged bullies who are, unable to read and appreciate literature or arts. One such bully was asked at the Festival why did he not challenge Rushdie to an intellectual debate on the Jaipur platform. This was actually a question he could not possibly have an answer for. If this person were capable of appreciating the beauty and majesty of Rushdie’s prose, he won’t be there threatening the organisers with violence, though, of course, he did that in a very peaceful manner and language, as all Mafia dons do.
At a panel discussion at Jaipur Festival following the announcement of Rushdie’svideo link too not being allowed, Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal asked the Maulvi: “Can anything that any one can say might even begin to dent the glory and beauty of Islam?” Is Allah threatened by even a virtual presence of Salman Rushdie, asked Tehelka’s Shoma Chaudhury, who was moderating the discussion, when the bearded bully could not understand Tejpal’s question. Of course, he could not possibly have had any answer. -- Sultan Shahin