Campaign to lift ban on `Satanic Verses`

A section of authors at the Jaipur Literature Festival launched a campaign demanding immediate lifting of the ban on the book "The Satanic Verses".

Jaipur: In what could further stoke the
Salman Rushdie controversy, a section of authors at the Jaipur
Literature Festival on Sunday launched a campaign demanding
immediate lifting of the 23-year-old ban on the controversial
writer`s book "The Satanic Verses".

"We strongly urge the government to reconsider the ban on
The Satanic Verses," read a petition put forward by the
authors led by writer Nilanjana Roy.

The book by the India-born author was banned in the
country in 1988 for allegedly having blasphemous content
hurting the sentiments of Muslims.

The petition claimed that `The Satanic Verses` "has not
incited violence anywhere. Others have used the novel`s
existence to incite violence to suit their political ends.

"Within India, in the 23 years since the ban, we have
witnessed an erosion of respect for freedom of expression, as
artists like M F Husain, Chandramuhun Srimantula, Jatin Das,
and Balbir Krishan have been intimidated, and works of writers
like Rohinton Mistry and AK Ramanujan have been withdrawn
because of threats by groups claiming to be offended," the
petition said.

India is one of the very few countries in the world where
the ban stands, placing it alongside Egypt, Pakistan, Iran,
Malaysia, Liberia and Papua New Guinea, among others, the
petition said.

"We submit with respect that there is a democratic need
to review and re-examine the circumstances that led to the
original ban of the Verses in 1988, which have changed greatly
over time," the petition said.

On Friday, four authors Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet
Thayil and Ruchir Joshi had raised hackles by protest reading
from the book after Rushdie cancelled his India visit to
attend the festival citing threat to his life.