India seeing a 'cultural emergency': Rushdie
New Delhi: A new cultural "emergency" is emerging in India, and writers, painters, and filmmakers are becoming soft targets, says author Salman Rushdie, citing the national "Emergency" during 1975-77. "It seems that culture has become the new target. It may be because the writers, painters, filmmakers, artists don't have armies. We don't have the boys to put on streets to defend our film, novel or painting. So it's not hard to attack," Rushdie said in an interview to news channel CNN-IBN.
Rushdie, who has been amidst controversy for long for his book "The Satanic Verses", which has been perceived as anti-Islamic, said it is "unfortunate" authorities do not defend the artists. "The strange form of identity politics has developed in which people don't define themselves with things they love but by the things they hate. So to attack a book about the Ramayana, book about Shivaji or painting about Saraswati... these things are easy to do. That somehow galvanize the sense of identity of these extremist forces," he said.
"Unfortunately the authorities don't defend the right of people to express themselves, but blame them. For instance, I heard one police officer saying the Jaipur Lit Fest organisers not to do anything that defames someone," he said.