Friday, February 03, 2012

Open letter to Barkha Dutt regarding Salman Rushdie

Dear Ms Dutt.
So wonderful and courageous of you to undo the efforts of politicians and Muslim clergy in keeping away the controversial author Salman Rushdie, from even a video link to the Jaipur Literature Festival, bringing him alive, the same evening from London on your channel and letting him blast India, Indian culture, its people, police, administration and the famous and respected Islamic seminary of Dar-Ul-Uloom Deoband, calling it breeding ground for Taliban and the peaceful protesters outside the Diggi Palace against his presence as gangsters.
Madame, you were highly agitated, when moments before you were to moderate Rushdie's video speak to the festival, the Rajasthan Police stopped the conference sighting a perception of threat to the festival. Your anger and disappointment is understandable. It must have hurt your ego.But what happened to the resolve you made in the debate that followed immediately after the video linking got cancelled. You so vociferously and emotionally condemning the competitive politicization of such religion based issues, that impinge on the freedom of expression and speech, also resolved that media should refrain from indulging in competitive mediazation and stop giving coverage and unnecessary exposure to fringe elements on both sides of the divide when it comes to issues based on ethnic or religious demands that harm the larger interest of the society.
Your bringing Rushdie on your channel in a programme lasting over 40 minutes was not in line with your resolve. Neither it will help to end the episode on an amicable note. And what did Rushdie say on that programme except to blast Indians, our culture, our leaders, our law enforcement agencies and hurt the sentiments of India's s largest minority , calling peaceful demonstrators outside the festival venue as gangsters.
The renowned seminary of Deoband was branded as nursery for terrorists.
Where was the need for you to recollect, Rushdie's comment, "that those who burn books will burn people" that was made several years ago, when his "Satanic Versus" was burnt in protest in several Muslim countries. What were you implying? That Muslims are immolators. And you just let him have uninterrupted time to predict the going down and under of a great country.
What happened to your nationalism, what happened to that fiery spirit in you, what happened to that passion and emotion that you so often show and exhibit when it comes to India's prestige and respect.
You provoked him into reiterating, that his blasphemous book, "Satanic Versus, in which he had ridiculed the Prophet if Islam and his household was work of art. That he was justified in writing the book that has hurt the feelings of 1. 7 billion people across the globe, including the 200 million, Indian Muslims..
If those agitating outside Diggi Palace were gangsters, what about those who deliberately, provokingly, exacerbated the issue by reading passages from the banned book. What would you call them? Intellectual gangsters?
Yes it is an old issue. It was dead, so was Salman Rushdie, but I am sorry the electronic media has brought back to life, this shameful issue. While you say that media should stop pandering to religious , self proclaimed leaders, nevertheless it's the media that never misses an opportunity to pitch in significant, ignorant, in articulate persons and make a mockery of religion. You have further inflamed the Rushdie episode, by giving him so much time only to lambast a great country and its people.
Who is Rushdie to say India will go down and under, India and its people have stood the test of time again and again. We stood up to the great tragedy of Partition, and then again we showed how cohesive we are, as people when we stood up to the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Syed Qamar Hasan.
Abu Dhabi based Indian journalist.
Cell. 0097150-6417350.

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