It's all happening out there.
First, this year's Nobel prize winnder for literature, Mo Yan, declined to sign a petition -- endorsed by more than 130 other Nobel laureates -- asking for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate. Mr Xiabao was sentenced to 11 years in prison back in 2009 for criticizing the Chinese government and calling for greater openness.
In a press conference in Stockholm a few days back, Mr Yan said while censorship should not stand in the way of the truth, defamation and rumours "should be censored."
"But," he added, "I also hope that censorship, per se, should have the highest principle".
"When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me even taking off my belt and shoes. But I think these checks are necessary."
Refusing to elaborate further on the case of Liu, Mr Yan directed reporters to the comments he made shortly after winning the prize, when he said he hoped Liu would be freed, but said he had no plans to sign a petition calling for the activist's release. "I have always been independent. I like it that way. When someone forces me to do something, I don't do it," he said.
Mr Yan went on the expand on this theme in his Nobel lecture as well:
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Finally, 15 years after the literary feud between Salman Rushdie and John Le Carré erupted in the letters pages of the Guardian in 1997, the latter has told the London Times "that their mutual loathing has finally come to an end."
Back in 1997, Rushdie had accused Le Carré of promoting censorship and had gone on to characterise him as a "dunce" and a " pompous ass.'' Christopher Hitchens too had jumped in the exchange and said that Mr Le Carré 's conduct reminded him " that of a man who, having relieved himself in his own hat, makes haste to clamp the brimming chapeau on his head."
"Two rabid ayatollahs could not have done a better job. But will the friendship last?" Mr Le Carré had countered, pointing out that he was more concerned about saving lives than about Mr Rushdie's royalties, and that Mr Rushdie was ''self-canonizing'' and ''arrogant.''
Mr Rushdie was allowed the last word by the newspaper, and had gone on to say about Mr Le Carré: It's true I did call him a pompous ass, which I thought pretty mild in the circumstances. "Ignorant" and "semi-literate" are dunces' caps he has skilfully fitted on his own head.
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Ashok Malik in the Asian Age:
In April 1992, Mushirul Hasan, then pro-vice chancellor of Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia, gave an interview to Sunday magazine in which he called for lifting the ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. “The banning of the book”, Mr Hasan said, “or any book for that matter, rarely helps. On the contrary, it lends the book greater notoriety”. The interview caused a storm. Students and teachers at Jamia protested. Mr Hasan was prevented from coming to work. When he attempted to do so after a prolonged period, he was beaten up. In reality, he had fallen victim to a Congress clique that wanted to “recapture” Jamia from academics allegedly affiliated to the CPI(M).
One of the Congress instigators was Mr Khurshid, then deputy minister for commerce. In The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Girija Kumar writes: “(Khurshid) made the extraordinarily outrageous statement that the liberals like Prof Mushirul Hasan ‘should be willing to pay the price of a liberal’”. A CPI(M) statement of the time was categorical: “It is highly unfortunate that certain minority fundamentalist forces are being aided and abetted by certain Congress (I) leaders, including some ministers like Salman Khurshid”.
In his book, Kumar wonders why Sunday “interviewed a number of Muslim politicians and intellectuals on the subject of The Satanic Verses”. There was “much speculation about the reasons… to revive the dormant controversy”. In his report on the Jamia Milia incidents, Justice M.M. Ismail, who otherwise criticised Mr Hasan, too considered the Sunday article, Kumar writes, “as motivated, and ‘an attempt at deliberate adventure’”. Was the article calculated to provoke a reaction? Only the person who wrote it can clarify. It carried the by-line of Louise Fernandes.
Read the full article at the Asian Age: Khurshid & MaCaulay
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