Why Salman Rushdie’s voice was silenced in Jaipur

William Dalrymple in The Guardian:

Salman-Rushdies-video-con-007In 2007, when literary events in Jaipur were still in their infancy, Rushdie was our first big international star, and his presence at the festival was a milestone for us. It raised our profile beyond anything we could have hoped or imagined. Rushdie came unannounced, with no bodyguards or police protection, and spoke brilliantly, sitting drinking tea and signing books for his fans, while giving avuncular advice to younger writers who had never met a writer of his stature. No objections were raised, no politicians got involved, no problems arose.

This time, however, the political situation in India is much more volatile. The 2012 festival happened to coincide with a razor-edge election in the all-important north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a poll in which the vote of the Muslim community was deemed to be crucial. It also came only four months after the Rajasthan government found itself in trouble with its Muslim voters after the Rajasthan police fired on a crowd of angry Muslim protesters at Gopalgarh, an hour's drive east of Jaipur, killing 10 people. All this meant that when, at Rushdie's request, we announced his name on our website, and when Maulana Nomani of Deoband then called for Rushdie to be banned from India, not a single Indian politician was willing to state clearly and unequivocally that he was welcome in the country in which he was born, which he loved, which he had celebrated in his fiction and to whose literature he had made such a ground-breaking contribution.

More here.