Salman Rushdie goes on offensive

Jason Burke in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_10 Jan. 25 12.54Salman Rushdie has launched a scathing attack on the Indian government for failing to protect free speech after organisers of Asia’s biggest literary festival were forced to cancel a video-linked appearance by the British author when owners of the venue in the north-west Indian city of Jaipur decided it would be unsafe.

However, in an interview with the local NDTV network, the 64-year-old author reserved his harshest words for the “Muslim groups that were so unscrupulous, and whose idea of free speech is that they are the only ones entitled to it”.

“[If] Anyone else, who they disagree with, wishes to open his mouth, they will try and stop that mouth,” Rushdie said.

“That’s what we call tyranny. It’s much worse than censorship because it comes with the threat of violence.”

The interview followed the last-minute cancellation of Rushdie’s speech to thousands waiting at the Diggi Palace, a heritage hotel in the centre of Jaipur.

British writer and historian William Dalrymple, one of the festival’s directors, said the decision had been taken by the owners of the venue.

“The police commissioner told us there would be violence in the venue and a riot outside where thousands were gathering if we continued,” Dalrymple said.

More here.

See the whole video here.