January 17 2012
The Muslims who are vociferously protesting the possibility of Salman Rushdie attending Jaipur's literary festival have, on the contrary, 'samman'ed [honoured] him. He deserved none of this attention. They have plastered egg on the face of the common Muslim community by raking up something entirely inconsequential to Muslim dilemma. I invite them to ponder the following:
a. Hasn't Salman visited India several times after writing Satanic Verses?
b. Has Salman caused Muslims greater harm than, say, Bal Thackeray or Narendra Modi? What have these vocal protesters done to silence these Hindutva extremists? What are they willing to do now? Some of them are actually bowing and bending before them, vying with one another, to win their favours.
c. What will the Muslims of India gain from denying Salman an entry into India? He continues to enjoy British citizenship, and is better off in UK. How has this campaign benefited the community?
d. Salman may have committed the idiocy of writing disrespectfully about the Prophet, or the Quran [neither have I read the book nor I intend to]. But, by the same logic, what about a lot of atheistic, polytheistic and pro-non-Allah literature that is undoubtedly widely circulating at Jaipur, and is being published everywhere, everyday?
e. What should India do when an Indian resident writes some such thing? And what would these protesters do? I am sure a lot of such literature is already in circulation.
f. If the protesters believed that Salman's writings constitute a cognizable offence under Indian laws, why don't they file a complaint against him and let the law takes its course, and then go about the more important task of community empowerment?
g. The UPA - or the Govt of Rajasthan - clearly played the same vote bank politics that has always harmed the larger mass of Muslims: appease the vocal minority amongst the Muslims, and create a false perception of having served their cause. The opposition Hindutva has taken fullest advantage of this perception and has actually hurt the Muslims. So who is actually responsible for this impoverishment?
I wish the community leadership singularly focuses its attention on true and enduring empowerment of Muslims. This way they will also serve the cause of India and of the world. And such an approach will, hopefully, earn us more friends than foes.