Arrest writers for reading Satanic Verses: MP

Hyderabad: Member of Parliament and president of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi has demanded the immediate arrest of the writers who on Friday read Salman Rushdie`s banned book `Satanic Verses` at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

"Reading from a banned book is a deliberate provocation and proof that the festival is a forum for Islam-bashing," Owaisi told reporters here on Saturday.

He said the organizers and writers had committed a serious offence by reading the book which is still banned in India. "Their whole idea is to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in Rajasthan and the whole of India. We demand that the government of Rajasthan, the government of India and local police take immediate action," he said.

The member of Lok Sabha from Hyderabad demanded that the police book the writers under sections 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and immediately arrest them.

"There are no two views about this. In the garb of liberalism, they are resorting to Islam-bashing. They are anti-Islam and anti-Muslim," he said.

Owaisi said the organizers had earlier invited an author known for anti-Islam writings. "Our apprehensions have come true. It is not a forum for expressing liberal views but is only aimed at hurting the sentiments of Muslims," he said describing the writers who read the banned book as `real assassins of peace and liberty`.

Authors Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi read some passages from `The Satanic Verses` on the first day of the festival, after Salman Rushdie pulled out of the event citing death threats.