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 ~~Sir Salman Rushdie accuses Indian leaders of failing to defend freedom of expression~~

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PostSubject: ~~Sir Salman Rushdie accuses Indian leaders of failing to defend freedom of expression~~   Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:41 am



Sir Salman Rushdie last night accused India's government and some of its political leaders of cowardice over their failure to defend his and other artists' freedom of expression in the face of protests by Muslim and Hindu extremists.

He also launched a withering attack on Imran Khan, the former Pakistan cricket captain-turned-politician who withdrew from a conference in New Delhi in 'protest' at Sir Salman's appearance at the same event.
He said Mr Khan had lived a 'playboy' life as a young man, but had now "struck deals with the army and the Mullahs" in his quest for power in Pakistan. He was a "dictator in waiting", he said.
The celebrated Booker-winning author was speaking at a conclave of opinion formers organised by the leading Indian magazine group India Today, two months after he was forced to withdraw from the Jaipur Literature Festival following threats and protests from Islamic extremists over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. He backed out after police and government officials warned him an assassination team had been dispatched to kill him.
His forced withdrawal from that festival provoked international criticism of the Indian government for failing to provide security and guarantee free speech in the world's largest democracy. But the climbdown was widely welcomed by senior political leaders contesting a state election in Uttar Pradesh where Muslim votes were considered pivotal.
Sir Salman last night said India was in danger of losing essential freedoms because its leaders are not prepared to defend them. Some of India's most senior government leaders, including the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, and two of the country's youngest chief ministers, Omar Abdullah of Jammu and Kashmir and Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, also pulled out of the conference.


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