Rushdie is welcome in Delhi: Dikshit



New Delhi: Amid protests by Muslim groups against hosting Salman Rushdie in Jaipur, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday said one may have differences with what he writes but the "very, very eminent" writer is welcome in the capital.

Dikshit's remarks came when asked about the open invitation extended by artist-activist group 'Sahmat' to Rushdie yesterday to attend a function in Delhi following developments in the Jaipur Literature Festival.

"We welcome everyone. We don't want to get into all this. He is a very well known writer and there may be differences in opinion over what he writes. He is a very very eminent writer. He is a Booker Prize winner," she told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

Rushdie had to cancel his visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival after Muslim organisations protested against his participation in the event.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also flagged concerns about his presence in the pink city due to the protests against the writer, who is in the eye of a storm once again for his novel 'Satanic Verses' written 23 years ago.

Alleging that the state exhibited a "cowardly unwillingness" in standing up to communal forces on Rushdie's India visit, Sahmat yesterday said they were ready to host him under any circumstances along with an exhibition of the works of late artist M F Husain, "who was driven into forced exile by a similar retreat".

'Sahmat' had previously defied an unofficial ban on Rushdie's novel "The Moor's Last Sigh" by conducting readings from the text on the streets of Delhi in 1995.

PTI