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There is a cultural emergency in India, says Salman Rushdie


Sagarika Ghose,CNN-IBN
Jan 24, 2013 at 02:34pm IST

New Delhi: Author Salman Rushdie, who's book Midnight's Children is now a film has said that there is a cultural emergency in India. Speaking to CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose, both Rushdie and the film's director, Deepa Mehta said they are deeply worried about repeated attacks on creative freedom in India.

"This is a different kind of emergency, it's a cultural emergency in India. Culture is the new target and artists do not have gangs to defend themselves. Culture and art is not hard to attack," Rashdie said.

Rushdie also blamed the authorities for not defending the artists. "Authorities do not defend the rights of artists. They instead blame the artists themselves," he said.

Salman Rushdie could not be present at the Jaipur Literature festival in 2012 with Muslim groups protesting against him. This year too, few Muslim groups have issued warnings against allowing Jeet Thayil, one of the four authors who had read out of an except from Rushdie's controversial book 'Satanic Verses' as a mark of support.

Jeet Thayil, Ruchir Joshi, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar had read out passages from 'Satanic Verses' following the cancellation Rushdie's visit to the festival last year. However, on Wednesday some Muslim groups softened their stand over the visit of Thayil saying they have no objection provided the act is not repeated.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's youth-wing also protested against the participation of Pakistani authors at the Jaipur Literature Festival following tension at the Line of Control.

This also comes amidst protests that have halted Kamal Haasan's latest film 'Vishwaroopam'. Kamal Haasan has reacted strongly to the Tamil Nadu government's decision to ban 'Vishwaroopam' following protests from some Muslim groups and said such "cultural terrorism" should stop.

"I have been ruthlessly used as a vehicle by small groups who seek political profile. Icon bashing is a great way to be noticed when you are not one yourself. It is happening again and again. Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film. It was designed for that purpose," he said in a statement.

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