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Strike against Rushdie in Kashmir partially successful

Srinagar, June 22, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

Kashmir protest

The strike called by Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, a militant outfit operating in Indian administered Kashmir and various separatist leaders to protest controversial novelist Salman Rushdie's knighthood evoked a mixed response here.

The business establishments remained closed and public transport remained off the roads. However, the private vehicles and auto rickshaws, which usually ply in Kashmir even on days of successful strikes, continued to ply normally.

The government offices, banks, other commercial establishments and educational institutions largely remained closed or had very liitle atendance.

Rushdie's ancestors belonged to Kashmir and he has always made references to Kashmir in his works. The plot of his latest novel "Shalimar, The Clown" is entirely based on Kashmir -- its heritage, arts, lifestyle and political turbulence. The way he projected human rights violations in "Shalimar the clown" didn't go well with Indian authorities.

Inspite of this fact people here called for burning all of his books.

The people in Kashmir marched on the streets for the third consecutive day to protest against both Britain and Salman Rushdie. Most of the protestors felt that by granting knighthood to Rushdie, Britain has confirmed the fact of being enemy of Islam. Some of them burnt Rushdie's effigies and termed the author of the controversial novel 'The Satanic Verses" as the "real Satan".

The latest controversy in the turbulent career of Rushdie started after Britain decided to knight him for his literary contributions. The decision was met with severe condemnation from Islamists all round the world and Kashmir was no exception.

India born Rushdie came in the line of fire of Muslim world with the publication of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, that sparked a huge controversy. Muslims condemned the book because of its perceived blasphemous depiction of the Prophet of Islam.

In 1989, Iranian Islamic revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued much publicised fatwa in which he called muslims to kill Rushdie.

Incidently Khomeini also has his roots in Kashmir. His ancestor's belonged to central Kashmir's Budgam area. Khomeini is one of the handfull religious leaders, who is held in high esteem in Kashmir both by Shiite as well as Sunni muslims.

Kashmiris too had responded at that time by protesting against Rushdie.

Later Tehran put the execution of the fatwa in cold storage.

Meanwhile Britain has defended its decision of granting knighthood to Rushdie, saying he is one of the most prominent novelists of the late 20th century.

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