Rushdie claimed Muslim fanatics and terrorists, not he, have caused the greatest harm to Islam and Muslims. He also termed the ruling Congress Party's Muslim fanatics-appeasement and votebank politics disgraceful, sickening and cowardly -- which are not working either. He also called Imran Khan, who avoided the forum due to Rushdie's presence, cowardly and a dictator in waiting in the likeness of Gaddafi...
Two months ago, "The Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie had to withdraw from his scheduled appearance at the Jaipur Literary festival, after the Indian government, in the face of protests and threats of violence by Muslim fanatics, barred him from coming to India, saying that underworld gangs have sent assassins to kill him. Muslim fanatics also forced the organizers to bar him from addressing a session of the festival via video conferencing.
A frustrated Rushdie, then appearing on NDTV from London, accused the government's capitulation to fanatics due to votebank politics as state election in Uttar Pradesh was drawing near. He said: "I will come to India many times, as I choose, to do what I will, and I will not allow these religious gangsters and their cronies in the government to prevent me.”
And challenging the Muslim fanatics and Muslim-appeasing politicians, Rushdie further added: “I am coming to India; deal with it.”
Keeping up to his challenge, Rushdie appeared at the two-day "India Today Conclave" in Delhi on Saturday (17 March 2012) – which was also to be addressed by Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Appearing at the event in the Taj Palace hotel in Delhi, entitled "The Liberty Verses – I am What I am and That's All That I am", Rushdie again took his aim at Indian politicians and Muslim fanatics, including Imran Khan.
Imran Khan, leader of the rising Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, earlier withdrew from appearing at the event, saying: "I could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie, who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe". Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim also withdrew from the event in protest of Rushdie’s presence at the forum.
Taking aim at Imran Khan’s accusation that Rushdie "caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims”, he said, "I have not caused immeasurable harm to Muslims. Fanatics cause biggest harm to Islam. Immeasurable harm has been caused to Muslims by terrorists based in Pakistan…" with whom Imran wants the world to negotiate.
Rushdie also said that Imran Khan is not a liberal that he was in his playboy days, but a dictator in waiting, adding: "Have you noticed the physical resemblance between IMran and Gaddafi? Could cast Imran as a slightly better-looking Gaddafi."
Defending the larger Muslim community of India by saying "95% of the Muslims of India are not interested in the violence being done in their name," Rushdie blasted the ruling Congress Party, saying "Votebank politics are going on again. Congress did this to no avail. Indian electorate is smarter than politicians and can see through them."
Attacking the Congress Party’s Muslim fanatics-appeasing policy, Rushdie said, "Years and years of kneeling down before every Mullah did not work. It must feel sick."
Taking aim at politicians Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee – who also failed to attend the event, clearly due to Rushdie’s appearance, he said: "I’m impressed by my effect. Really, they’re that scared of me? In the old days, we called this cowardice.”
Sources: The Times of India; Asiaone.com; freemalaysia.com; NDTV.com