1. In your opinion, was the action of the protesters and the threat of violence un-Islamic?
Any act of violence is not permitted by the Indian Laws. The current issue must be dealt with accordingly. I am not an Islamic scholar, but so far as my understanding goes Islam does not promote violence. The issue was made political mostly by media, it is the media which is fanning the current controversy possibly under the influence of political patronage. Further even the Jaipur – Literature Festival platform was misused by media yesterday by organizing a special session on ‘salman rushdie’. salman rushdie has visited number of occasions earlier, but none of those occasions was the information put in media in advance. All reporting was done after he had left India. Why is this different this time – media and political patronage?
2. Have you read The Satanic Verses? What is the most offensive aspect of the book, according to you?
Yes, this is not the best of writings which I appreciated. The government of India did it good to ban it in India. India is made of people with strong religious beliefs and one has to be sensitive to such religious beliefs; in fact one needs to cherish the diversity of India and be sensitive. Freedom of expression should not be used to promote hate writing and pornography in India.
3. Do you think the government handled Salman Rushdie's visit appropriately?
Government response must be in the larger interest of millions of it citizens and their legitimate requirements have to be met. It is also essential to keep peace and orderly behavior across India. The promoters of freedom of speech, English speaking elite are far too few and they live in their own ivory towers and often far removed from the practicality of human lives across the rural and urban parts of India. They can create their own ideological castles and live in their own cocoons. Understanding socio-cultural life styles of Indian is a serious matter.
4. Is the view held by Salim Engineer representative of the view of the mainstream Muslim society?
No single individual can represent the view of millions of Indian citizens. I do not know who this person is. But what matters is the sensitivities and religious sentiments must be respected, but not promoted. The religious believes do change as we educate our citizens.