Novelist Salman Rushdie canceled his appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival after he was warned by police about assassination threats.
Very sad not to be at jaipur. I was told bombay mafia don issued weapons to 2 hitmen to 'eliminate' me. Will do video link instead. Damn, Rushdie tweeted on Friday.
Muslim groups had also planned to protest the event if the Satanic Verses author made his scheduled appearance. Rushdie had been slated to speak on the opening day of India's largest literary festival, but told organizers on Friday that he would not be attending due to the threat of violence.
I have now been informed by intelligence sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to eliminate me, Rushdie said in a statement read out by festival organizers.
While I have some doubts as to the accuracy of this intelligence, it would be irresponsible of me to come to the festival in such circumstances.
In the weeks leading up to the event, Islamic leaders from the influential Darul Uloom Deoband seminary tried to get Rushdie's visa revoked, calling the author a man whose blasphemous writings have hurt the sentiments of Muslims all over the world. At the time, Rushdie defiantly and playfully remarked that having been born in India, he didn't need a visa, but it seems that the threats were enough to keep him away in the end.
This is the result of a tragic game of Chinese whispers. The reality of Rushdie's writings are completely different from the way they have been cartooned and caricatured, festival director, William Dalrymple, told reporters.
Rushdie was famously given a fatwa death sentence by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the publication of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which was based in part on the life of Mohammad.
This year's Jaipur festival is expected to attract 70,000 visitors, and distinguished guests such as Michael Ondaatje, Tom Stoppard, Richard Dawkins, Ariel Dorfman and Oprah Winfrey. The event also garnered a significant police presence after it opened on Friday, with more than 500 officers on hand in preparation for protests.
This festival at no point wants to offend any one religion, any one people. We stand by the freedom of expression, festival producer, Sanjoy Roy, stated.