New Delhi, Jan 10: Controversial author Salman Rushdie has brushed aside opposition to his India trip by top Islamic Seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, saying he does not need a visa to visit the country.
“Regarding my Indian visit, for the record, I don't need a visa,” posted Rushdie on microblogging site Twitter in the wake of demands by Deoband that the Indian government cancel his visa as he had hurt religious sentiments of Muslims in the past.
Indian-origin Rushdie, who has a British passport and holds a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, is scheduled to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival this month end.
Vice Chancellor of Darul Uloom Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani had said yesterday that the “Indian government should cancel his visa as Rushdie had annoyed the religious sentiments of Muslims in the past.”
65-year-old Rushdie had earned the wrath of Muslims worldwide due to the alleged blasphemous content in his novel “The Satanic Verses” which was published in 1988.
The novel, which was banned by India, had sparked outrage in the Muslim world, including a fatwa against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on February 14, 1989.
Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Teamworks Productions which is organising the Jaipur Literature Festival said, “A literary platform like the Jaipur festival provides a space for free speech in India's best democratic traditions.
“Salman Rushdie has attended several literary events and forums in India in recent years without incident. This includes his attending the Commonwealth Writers Prize awards in 2000, and the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2007.
“In plural societies such as ours, it is imperative that we continue to allow avenues for unfettered literary expression,” said Roy.