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Is Salman Rushdie a Midnight’s Child?

Posted on: January 20, 2012

At last the Jaipur Literature Festival has begun. Like every year this year too the festival had its usual share of controversy. This time around the name of controversial novelist Salman Rushdie’s name as one of the guests was enough to stir the hornest’s nest.

Predictably, the powers that be gave in to the extremists’ demand of not allowing Mr. Rushdie to be a part of this world famous festival. The extremists may have scored a victory. But the fact remains that they are the biggest losers. This tantrum has not done any good to their image. Needless to say the powers that be seem to have caved in not out of any fear. But they chose to do so with an eye on the UP elections where they don’t want to lose the Muslim votes.

Anybody will tell you that the political class is more interested in protecting its own vote-bank than empowering it. Once in a while to appease the vote-bank if it’s seen as bending over backwards, it doesn’t mind. It’s the votes that count and not the artistic freedom especially if it is being termed as blasphemous. That’s another matter that in the whole process the community always ends up looking like a loser.

The recent incident has hurt the image of the Indian Muslims badly enough. Mullahs might have successfully created the atmosphere of fear and danger for Mr. Rushdie. The government too pooh-poohed the issue of providing him with adequate security during his stay. That left the novelist with no other option but to decide against participating in the JLF.

Whatever has happened is quite sad. What is even sadder is the fact that from within the community no liberal voices have come out in support of Salman Rushdie. No doubt that every Muslim loves the prophet. If Mr. Rushdie has indeed insulted the prophet in his banned “Satanic Verses” and is yet to offer an apology for this blasphemous act, then it is indeed a matter of grave concern. But the point here is the faith is a private matter between god and his followers. If Mr. Rushdie has committed sins, he’ll have to answer and atone for them. Who are we to punish him in this manner? This unruly behaviour is not only bringing bad name but further alienation also from the mainstream.

Ironically the powers that be never crack down on such undesirable elements. They never tried to bring to book those who made life hell for the painter M F Hussain so much so that poor painter had to flee the country, spend last few years of his remaining life in a far away land and eventually died a lonely death. The same is happening with the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen who has been living in India in exile. Who can forget the way she was hounded out of the West Bengal where she had initially sought shelter?

The type of censorship that the extremists want to impose upon those accused of blasphemy amounts to plain thuggery. It doesn’t do any good to any party. There are better ways to deal with an alleged blasphemous act than this. Why to read or watch or give importance to a work of fiction or painting that depicts gods in nude? If we all turn a blind eye to the filth that sometimes gets passed off as pieces of genius, will the writers or painters not feel discouraged and stop producing such provocative material? If only we stop overreacting to the silly games politicians play, there will be fewer controversies and more productive work that benefits everyone. Time to wake up from deep slumber has perhaps come now.

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1 Response to "Is Salman Rushdie a Midnight’s Child?"

The US elections is witnessing another low by discussing religion and trying to mobilise support for a candidate. Elections have no virtue and is far from reality.

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Wow....!!! This Much Love.....!!!!

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