Emboldened by the Indian government's two-decade-long ban on Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, some Indian Muslim clerics are now trying to get the author himself banned from the country. They want the government to stop Rushdie from attending the Jaipur Literary Festival, the biggest and most prestigious powwow of its kind in the subcontinent, where the author is scheduled to dissertate on the topic of 'Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The chutnification of English,' later this month.
Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic Seminary's vice chancellor, a man obviously unfamiliar with the concept of free speech, urged the government to cancel Rushdie's visa for hurting the sentiments of Muslims in the past.
But fortunately there are plenty of sensible Indian Muslims this time around resisting such calls, including the law minister Salman Khurshid. He has steadfastly stood up for Rushdie's right to come and go as he damn well pleases from his native country without a visa since he is a duly certified Person of Indian Origin. "This should not be made an issue. These are matters of normal processes of legal rights," Khurshid said. ""A person of Indian origin' can visit the country without visa and Rushdie can come here likewise."
The book, readers will recall, earned Rushdie a fatwa on his head for, among other things, suggesting that Muhammad had unwittingly included some verses from Satan in the Quran.
Padma Lakshmi, the super model who stole and broke Rushdie's heart here.
And my 2005 interview with Rushdie here.