India

Salman Rushdie: India banned Satanic Verses hastily

  • 12 September 2012
  • From the section India
Author Salman Rushdie poses for photographs on the red carpet for the new movie "Midnight"s Children" during the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.
Sir Salman won the Booker Prize for Midnight's Children in 1981

British author Sir Salman Rushdie has said that India banned his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses without any scrutiny.

Sir Salman has made these remarks in his upcoming memoirs Joseph Anton, excerpts from which have been published in The New Yorker magazine.

Many Muslims regard The Satanic Verses as blasphemous. The book is still banned in India.

The writer won the Booker Prize for Midnight's Children in 1981.

He lived in hiding for many years after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his execution.

Sir Salman writes that on 6 October 1988, his friend Salman Haider, who was the deputy high commissioner of India in London, called to "tell him formally, on behalf of the government, that The Satanic Verses had been banned in India".

"The book had not been examined by any properly authorised body, nor had there been any semblance of judicial process," he writes.

"The ban came, improbably, from the finance ministry, under section 11 of the Customs Act, which prevented the book from being imported.

"Weirdly, the finance ministry stated that the ban 'did not detract from the literary and artistic merit' of his work."

"Thanks a lot, he thought," writes Sir Salman in the memoirs, which is written in third person.

In January, the author withdrew from attending India's Jaipur Literature Festival, saying that sources had told him of a death threat.

He was also forced to abandon plans to address the gathering by a video-link after protesters threatened to march on the venue.

Sir Salman was born in India but is a British citizen and has lived in the UK for most of his life.

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