Salman Rushdie now...and in a 1983 interview with John Pilger (images courtesy:

Salman Rushdie now...and in a 1983 interview with John Pilger (images courtesy:

It is unfortunate that despite living in a political democracy for 75 years, Muslim organizations today are demanding a national blasphemy law.

The statement by Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) on the attack on writer Salman Rushdie brings to the fore the issue of blasphemy and on the freedoms enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Progressive Muslims and leading members of Secular Civil Society condemn the dastardly attack on Salman Rushdie!

The IMSD condemns the murderous attack on Salman Rushdie in the strongest possible terms. There cannot be any doubt that the assault on the world-renowned writer is due to the Iranian fatwa in 1989 which pronounced that Rushdie should be killed for blaspheming against the prophet of Islam. Despite the apology tendered by Rushdie for ‘hurting the sentiments of Muslims’, the fatwa against him remained in force; the bounty on his head was doubled. In Islamic theology, an apostate can be forgiven if he apologizes but the blasphemer against the prophet is not to be given any such quarter; he has to be summarily executed. That a young Muslim man, Hadi Madar, who was not even born when Satanic Verses was published, willed to execute the fatwa, only goes on to prove the extraordinary sway of such a theology.

Any such attack is designed to create a regime of fear. Translators of Satanic Verses were killed, discussions on the book were violently repressed and bookstores were forced to take the novel off their shelves. The regime of fear made sure that very few stood with Salman Rushdie, except for those Islamophobes who delighted in telling the world that this thuggery was ‘real Islam’. Thirty-three years later, we hear the same loud silence from Muslim countries and organizations. None of the prominent Indian Muslim organizations have condemned this barbarous attack on a prominent writer. It is this silence that emboldens the Islamophobes to paint the religion as a creed of violence and terror.

The recent murder of Kanhaiya Lal for another case of Blasphemy by two Muslim fanatics, is another case in point of the intolerance within sections of the Indian Muslim community. Though all major Muslim organizations condemned the murder, but did do so under the pretext of a hate-crime, but refused to acknowledge the fact that it was a murder for blasphemy. Such is the blatant hypocrisy, which only serves to weaken and further isolate the Muslim community due to it’s dual standards.

It is rather rich on the part of Muslim organizations that they only remember human rights when they are being attacked but do not extend the same rights and dignity to others, Muslims or not, who differ from them on matters of religion. This is plain hypocrisy which does not help the Muslim cause. Being a minority, Indian Muslims should be championing a rights-based discourse on the importance of free speech and dissent. It is unfortunate that despite living in a political democracy for 75 years, Muslim organizations today are demanding a national blasphemy law. Muslims do not need the Hindu right wing to argue that Islam and human rights are incompatible; they themselves have been advertising this position for long.

Satanic Verses was one of the first novels to inquire into the nature of Muslim immigration into Europe. And yet the irony is that Muslims burnt it to proclaim a politics of distinction and separateness. The IMSD firmly states that without free speech, freedom to read, write and dissent, we cannot uphold the freedoms enshrined in our constitution. And we believe that only by investing in these freedoms can we uphold the values of our republic. In this hour of grave crisis, we stand firmly with Salman Rushdie and wish him speedy recovery. We once again appeal to all Muslim organizations to rethink their position on blasphemy; a form of politics which is doing Muslims more harm than good.

For further information contact:
Javed Anand, National Convener:
Feroze Mithiborwala, National Co-Convener: +919029277751
Arshad Alam, National Committee:

Endorsed by:

  1. Prof. Ram Puniyani, Author, Mumbai
  2. Medha Patkar, NAPM, Mumbai
  3. Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, Delhi
  4. Prof. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Islamic Scholar, IMSD, Mumbai
  5. Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj Abhiyaan, Delhi
  6. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Filmmaker
  7. Dr. Sunilam, Farmer’s Leader, Indore
  8. Prof. Shamshul Islam, Delhi
  9. Zakia Soman, BMMA, Ahmedabad
  10. Irfan Engineer, CSSS, Mumbai
  11. Anjum Rajabali, IMSD, Film Scriptwriter, Mumbai
  12. Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Award, Lucknow
  13. Justice Kolse Patil (Retd), Pune
  14. Ghulam Rasool Delhvi, Classical Islamic Scholar, IMSD, Delhi
  15. Adv. A J Jawwad, IMSD, Chennai
  16. Amir Rizvi, Designer, IMSD, Mumbai
  17. Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, Delhi
  18. Bilal Khan, IMSD, Mumbai
  19. Shabana Dean, IMSD, Mumbai
  20. Ali Bhojani, IMSD, Mumbai
  21. Sheeba Aslam Ferhi, Researcher, Delhi
  22. Aziz Lokhandwala, IMSD, Mumbai
  23. Salim Sabuwala, IMSD, Mumbai
  24. Saleem Yusuf, IMSD, Mumbai
  25. Askari Zaidi, IMSD, Mumbai
  26. Masooma Ranalvi, IMSD, Mumbai
  27. Muniza Khan, IMSD, Mumbai
  28. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Mumbai
  29. Taizoon Khorakiwala, IMSD, Mumbai
  30. Akbar Sheikh, IMSD, Sangli
  31. Muhammad Imran, USA
  32. Sadique Basha, IMSD, Mumbai
  33. Mansoor Sardar, Bhiwandi
  34. Nuruddin Naik, IMSD, Mumbai
  35. Kasim Saif, Chennai
  36. Prof. Qamarjahan
  37. Lata P. M., Researcher, Bahujan Feminist, Mumbai
  38. Prof. Rooprekha Verma, Lucknow
  39. Prof. Rakesh Rafique, Moradabad
  40. Prof. Rajiv, Lucknow
  41. Jagriti Rahi, Gandhian, Varanasi
  42. Prof. Ajit Jha, Swaraj Abhiyan, Delhi
  43. Geeta Sheshu, Journalist, Free Speech Collective, Mumbai
  44. Thomas Matthew, Delhi
  45. Adv. Arun Maji, Dalit Human Rights Defender, Kolkatta
  46. Shekhar Sonalkar, Writer, Sholapur
  47. Adv. Lara Jesani, IMSD, Mumbai
  48. Putul, Sarvodaya, Varanasi
  49. Varsha Vidya Vilas, Social Activist, Mumbai
  50. Guddi S L, Social Activist, Mumbai
  51. Jyoti Badekar, Social Activist, Mumbai
  52. Ravi Bhilane, Ex-Editor, Journalist, Mumbai
  53. Vishal Hiwale, Save Constitution Movement, Mumbai
  54. Prof. Om Damani, Mumbai
  55. Prof. Vasantha Raman
  56. Prof. Dipak Malik
  57. Prof. Cyrus Gonda
  58. Yashodhan Paranjpe, IMSD, Mumbai
  59. Shalini Dhawan, Designer, Mumbai
  60. Neelima Shamra

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *