The Darul Uloom Deoband has said that it wants to government to deny visa to Salman Rushdie, for hurting the religious sentiment of Muslims.
The vice chancellor of the world seminary said that allowing Rushdie to come to India would be like â€œadding Â to the injuries of Muslims.â€
“Rushdie should not be allowed to visit India. If he visits it would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims. He has hurt our religious sentiments,” Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani told IANS over phone from Deoband.
Rushdie is scheduled to travel to India to attend the annual Jaipur Literary Festival organised by William Dalrymple. The vice chancellor of the world renowned seminary said that no formal communication has been made to the government in this regard.
If the government does not cancelâ€™s Rushdieâ€™s visa, he said that the seminary would write to the Prime Minister, the External Affairs Ministry and to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“We will write to the external affairs ministry, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi if the government doesn’t cancel his visa,” Nomani said.
The 65 year old Rushdie has been in the cross hairs of the Muslim community for his controversial book â€œThe Satanic Versesâ€. The book which was published in 1988 has been banned in India. The book depicts a half mad charlatan called Mahound creating a religious revolution in Arabia. The characterâ€™s story closely parallels that of the Muslim Prophet Hazrat Muhammad, and the name Mahound was a derogatory name given to Muhammad in the middle ages by Europeans.
Muslims contend that Rushdieâ€™s book is blasphemous to the Prophet, and deliberately provocative. if the Darul Uloom does make a formal representation to the government for denying visa to Rushdie, it would put the government in a quandary. If it cancels Rushdieâ€™s visa it would be seen to be pandering to Muslims. If it does not it may have negative implications for the Congress in the forthcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Whether the seminary is right is asking for such a ban is questionable. It would only feed into the narrative that Muslims are intolerant, and would gain nothing for the community if the event of Rushdie not being given a visa.
Muslim leaders should walk away from the practice of emotional politics and concentrate on rebuilding the community. In the long run that is the best guarantor against the sort of politics of provocation that writers like Salman Rushdie indulges in.
The best response to such writers is to ignore them.