Imran Khan cancels India trip in Salman Rushdie protest

Imran Khan
Image caption Imran Khan is a leading opposition politician

Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan has said he will not participate in a conference in India because author Sir Salman Rushdie is due to speak there.

Sir Salman, who wrote The Satanic Verses, will speak at a conference in the capital, Delhi, on Friday.

Mr Khan said the author had "caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims".

Many Muslims regard The Satanic Verses as blasphemous. The book, published in 1988, is still banned in India.

The author was forced to pull out of a literature festival in the country two months ago after death threats from some Muslim protesters.

Mr Khan, a former cricketer, is the leader of the Pakistan Movement for Justice (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) party.

Death threat

A statement released by his party said Mr Khan had cancelled his participation in the conference organised by the India Today media group on learning of Sir Salman's participation.

"He expressed his regrets to the organisers but stated categorically that he could not even think of participating in any programme that included [Salman] Rushdie who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims around the globe," the statement said.

The statement said Mr Khan had "received and seen" the programme on Tuesday evening, and took the decision soon after.

According to the India Today Conclave website, Sir Salman is due to speak on Friday for an hour.

The organisers have declined to confirm reports that the author will be physically present.

His event is be titled "The Liberty Verses - I am What I am and That's All That I am". It will be moderated by author Aatish Taseer.

In January, Sir Salman withdrew from attending the 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.

According to the India Today Conclave website, Sir Salman is due to speak on Friday for an hour.

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