Sensationalism in 'Satanic Verses' has hurt Muslims: Katju

Salman Rushdie
New Delhi, Jan 30: Attacking Salman Rushdie, Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Markandey Katju today said the 'sensationalism' depicted by his book 'Satanic Verses' has deeply hurt Muslim sensitivities and that an individual's freedom of speech has to harmonised with the public interest.

Justice Katju, who had last week termed Rushdie as a 'sub-standard and poor writer', also questioned the Booker Prize awarded to the author saying it was 'mystery' why he got it.

"Some people describe Rushdie as a great writer because he has won the Booker Prize. In this connection, I wish to say that Literature prizes are often a mystery. Out of the approximately 100 Nobel Prizes given for literature till today, nobody even remembers the name of 80 or more winners," he said in a statement here.

Referring to the Satanic Verses, he said that Rushdie has, "certainly attacked, even though by insinuation, Islam and the Prophet. Such sensationalism may have earned Rushdie million of dollars, but it has deeply hurt Muslim sensitivities."

Justice Katju, who till recently was Supreme Court judge, said the individual's freedom of speech has to be 'harmonised' with the public interest.

"In other words, a balance has to be struck between the two. Where to strike the balance is therefore a question of crucial importance," he said, while noting that Article 19(2) provides for 'reasonable restrictions' on the freedom of speech in the "interest of security of the State, public order, decency, morality, etc."


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