William Dalrymple: Why Salman Rushdie was forced to cancel his visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival

The historian and writer explains the reasoning behind author Salman Rushdie’s no-show at the 2012 Jaipur Literary Festival.

According to the historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the biggest mistakes made by the organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival was to publicise Salman Rushdie’s appearance during a tense election period in the Indian state of Rajasthan (read our case study here). Dalrymple says that although he initially opposed the cancellation of Rushdie’s appearance and the subsequent video address, the risk of violence erupting either through protests or a stampede was too high for it not to be a serious consideration. He adds that “in a volatile situation with a police force that routinely shoots crowds of peaceful protesters, in a venue … which is massively overcrowded already, where even few people throwing chairs could have ignited a rush for the exit, I think we did the right thing.”

Interview by Maryam Omidi and Manav Bhushan

(Photo by Nimbu under a Creative Commons Attribution-only licence.)

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Comments (1)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. Violence? Okay, violence then. The first question is who creates violence? The answer to this question is easy: the powerful men. Who pushes the people to violence? Injustice. And who creates injustice? The powerful men. Clear enough? Ok then. Then, it’s a vicious circle. In other words, the queen, the pope, the States, the capitalism, Bashar al-Assad king of Siria etc, these people and institutions are violence, legalized violence, not ju-stice then, but violence justified by the law!
    Infact, how much violence there is in all what the rich own, consume and waste? Think about the pope who is a moving fortune with all the jewels and the rich clothes he weares; think about the queen Elizabeth II when she gallops around London in her golden state-coach; think about Berlu-sconi organizing his bunga bunga parties; think how much violence there’s when a politician with all his staff goes to a five stars hotel?
    It’s clear who pays the bill for these gentlemen, isn’t it?
    Our leading institutions, in reality, they do not rappresente democracy, but a subtle enlightened barbarism. If so, our lives and our history are in the hands of legalized criminals; if so, how could modern man, who knows about this human butchery, accepts this kind of social contract?
    As long as we live in this sort of world, the kind of violence created by Salman Rushdie, is really nothing, it is only the point of the iceberg. The real violence has not yet started!

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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