An Islamic group in India is asking Muslims to boycott products of a top Indian business group if its owner does not apologise for hosting author Salman Rushdie on a brief holiday this week.
Rushdie stayed at the bungalow of the Godrej family while visiting Mumbai, where he was born and spent many of his early years. The author is a personal friend of the Godrejs, who are one of the big business families in India.
The fact that Rushdie was invited by the Godrejs has angered the All-India Ulema Council – a national grouping of Muslim organisations – which says the family had not cared for the sentiments of Muslims whom Rushdie had offended with his writings.
“We really hope Mr Godrej realises the hurt he has caused us and says sorry for it,” Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, a council official, said. “Otherwise, we are asking Muslims all over to boycott his company’s products.”
The Godrejs were not available for comment.
The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme religious leader, pronounced a fatwa on the author of Satanic Verses among others, in 1989 that called on Muslims to kill Rushdie because of perceived blasphemy in that novel. Rushdie was forced to live in hiding for nine years. In June, he was selected for a knighthood by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, again angering some Muslims in Iran and Pakistan.
Recently, the presence of another controversial writer, exiled Bangladeshi Taslima Nasreen, has sparked riots by Muslims offended by her books. Threats against her have forced authorities to house her in a secret security facility in New Delhi since November, and she has appealed for more freedom.