Petitioned by Protesters, Penguin Quits New Book in India: Is This the Next Satanic Verses?
February 12, 2014
Prompting an outcry from scholars, writers, lawyers, and other free speech advocates, Penguin recently withdrew publication in India of The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger in response to a petition from a Hindu fundamentalist group. The group claims the book includes “heavily sexualized Hindu religious figures” and that it misrepresents Indian history and historical figures. However, eminent literary critic Namwar Singh declares the petition and its subsequent effect on Penguin an “attack on writers’ freedoms.”
“[The opponents] should tolerate it, and respond in kind… the appropriate response to the written word is the written word itself, not a ban,” said Singh.
Famously, in 1988, The Satanic Verses, a novel by Salman Rushdie, was formally banned in India, and in 2012 Rushdie cancelled his appearance at the annual Jaipur Literary Festival after receiving threats from extremist organizations. Writer Jeet Thayil, who supports Rushdie’s work in India, offered his thoughts on this recent controversy to The Times of India, “it is unfortunate that a religion that is known for its tolerance is showing that fundamentalists are the same everywhere.”
Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, the group behind the petition against The Hindus: An Alternative History, is a right-wing conservative group, which has a history of contesting the contents of school textbooks as well as sex education in schools.
Read the whole story at The Times of India.