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JK: Protests over knighthood title to Rushdie

Written by: Staff

Srinagar, June 21: Activists of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Freedom League today took out a march here in protest against the award of a British knighthood to India-born author Salman Rushdie, whose 1988 novel 'The Satanic Verses' outraged Muslims worldwide. The activists gathered at the Hari Singh High Street and marched toward 'Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower)' in Lal Chowk area here.

Carrying banners and placards, the protestors denounced Rushdie, Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her government.

''Hang Rushdie...Rushdie is Enemy of Muslims...Rushdie is Enemy of Humanity...Down With British Government and Rushdie is Liable to be Killed,'' read some of the banners.

They also shouted slogans like ''Death to Rushdie...Kill Rushdie ...Hang Rushdie and Down With Britain'' to condemn the award of knighthood the author.

Before dispersing, the protestors burnt Rushdie in effigy at the Clock Tower here.

Rushdie was awarded the knighthood for services to literature in Queen Elizabeth's birthday honours list published on Saturday.

Several religious, separatist and militant organisations have condemned in strongest terms the award termed the act as an ''insult'' to Islam.

Describing the award as an act directed against Islam, the Jamaat-e-Islami said honouring a person like Rushdie exposed the anti-Islam attitude of the West, particularly Britain.

The official Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Maulana Mufti Mohammad Bashir-ud-din Ahmad, also condemned the award.

In a press release here, he resented the action of Queen Elizabeth and declared that Rushdie was ''liable to be killed'' for rendering ''gravest injury'' to the sentiments of the Muslims across the world by writing against the Prophet Mohammad.

The Grand Mufti urged the Queen and her government to withdraw the award and also apologise to the Muslim world for conferring the knighthood title on Rushdie.

In a statement here, the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit has called for complete shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday in protest against the award. The outfit has also called for statewide protests and agitation over the issue.

Surprisingly, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan has supported the strike call given by the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit.

Addressing a news conference here, LJP national vice-president Sanjay Saraf urged the people to observe a complete shutdown in protest against the British government's decision.

'The Satanic Verses' had evoked violent protests by Muslims around the world because they said the novel committed blasphemy against Islam.

Soon after, the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa death warrant against Rushdie in 1989, forcing him into hiding for nine years.

However, the Islamic Republic's government formally distanced itself from the fatwa in 1998. The death edict was disavowed under a deal with Britain.

Besides the Booker Prize for Midnight's Children in 1981, Rushdie has won the Booker of Booker, a special award honoring the best novel in the 25-year history of the prize in 1993.

Britain's twice-yearly honours ritual. designed to recognise outstanding achievement, is part of an ancient and complex honours system. A total of 946 honours were handed out in the birthday list, including 21 knighthood.


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