Questioning silence of Muslim organizations over barbarous attack on writer Salman Rushdie, the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) has appealed to them to rethink their position on blasphemy that is a "form of politics which is doing Muslims more harm than good".
The statement by IMSD was endorsed by 60 eminent citizens, including social activist Medha Patkar, activist, psephologist and politician Yogendra Yadav and Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, among others.
According to IMSD website, it is a forum of Indian Muslims committed to the values of democracy, secularism, equality and justice as enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of India.
Underlining that the attack on Rushdie was designed to create a regime of fear, the IMSD said none of the prominent Indian Muslim organizations have condemned this barbarous attack on a prominent writer.
"It is this silence that emboldens the Islamophobes to paint the religion as a creed of violence and terror," IMSD said in the statement.
Over a week ago, Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and stomach onstage in front of a stunned audience by 24-year-old New Jersey man Hadi Matar when the ‘Satanic Verses’ author was about to speak at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
Rushdie, the Mumbai-born controversial author who faced Islamist death threats for years after writing 'The Satanic Verses', was airlifted to a local trauma centre and put on a ventilator and underwent several hours of surgery.
The IMSD said the regime of fear made sure that very few stood with Salman Rushdie, except for those Islamophobes who delighted in telling the world that this thuggery was ‘real Islam’ and thirty-three years later, the same loud silence from Muslim countries and organizations was heard.
"It is rather rich on the part of Muslim organizations that they only remember human rights when they are being attacked but do not extend the same rights and dignity to others, Muslims or not, who differ from them on matters of religion. This is plain hypocrisy which does not help the Muslim cause," the statement said.
Being a minority, Indian Muslims should be championing a rights-based discourse on the importance of free speech and dissent, it said.
"Muslims do not need the Hindu right wing to argue that Islam and human rights are incompatible; they themselves have been advertising this position for long," the IMSD said.
The IMSD said it firmly states that without free speech, freedom to read, write and dissent, "we cannot uphold the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. And we believe that only by investing in these freedoms can we uphold the values of our republic".
"In this hour of grave crisis, we stand firmly with Salman Rushdie and wish him speedy recovery. We once again appeal to all Muslim organizations to rethink their position on blasphemy; a form of politics which is doing Muslims more harm than good," it said.
(With PTI inputs)