Rushdie: Protests 'stifled free speech'

Jan. 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM
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NEW DELHI, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Author Salman Rushdie said Tuesday Muslim protests that led to cancellation of his video appearance at an Indian literature festival "stifled free speech."

His comments on Twitter came hours after concerns about violence by Muslim organizations led to the cancellation of a scheduled video appearance, The Times of India reported.

"Threat of violence by Muslim groups stifled free speech today. In a true democracy all get to speak, not just the ones making threats," Rushdie said on Twitter.

Rushdie, the author of the 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses," which has drawn protests from Muslims and death threats, was to deliver an address via video Tuesday at the Jaipur Literature Festival in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Press Trust of India reported.

But the video appearance at Diggi Palace was canceled after a meeting between festival organizers and Muslim organizations.

Sanjay Roy, one of the organizers, said police had said people inside planned to disrupt the event and threatened violence.

"Some organizations have threatened violence. This is unfortunate, but necessary to avoid violence. It is a fairly idiotic situation," Roy said.

He said it's "unfortunate that we are being bullied again and we had to step down. ... We had no other way but to listen to save the people here, our children and everyone here."

Rushdie, the 65-year-old native of India, had been scheduled to speak at 3:45 p.m. about his childhood, his work and the adaptation of his novel "Midnight's Children" into a film.

Rushdie had delayed plans to appear in person at the festival after India's leading Islamic Seminary called for protests over "The Satanic Verses." The appearance was canceled after organizers learned of intelligence reports that he would be assassinated if he came to Jaipur, The Daily Telegraph of Britain reported.

The video link was an alternative plan.

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