British writer Salman Rushdie in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN which discussed modern Islam, said that the idea of the holy war seems to be growing popular amongst the youth in economically disadvantaged economies. Rushdie said jihad gave a sense of direction to largely unemployed youth in these countries who had no means of a good life.
Rushdie's comments come at a time when anti-US protests have rocked the Middle East, and even some parts in south India, over a movie that is purported to be anti-Islam. The increasingly violent demonstrations have claimed a number of lives, including that of the US ambassador to Libya.
These are some highlights of the interview.
"What has now developed is a harsher Islam, partly because of the spread of Wahabi ideas. Many of these countries are economically very disadvantaged and the jihad seems to give the youth direction, a purpose, a sense of self-importance," he said.
Growing intolerance within India towards freedom of expression:
"The fact that Ramanujan's essay was removed from Delhi University syllabus, the attack on Rohinton Mistry's novel, which was immediately removed from the Bombay University syllabus, this attack on the cartoonist for his perfectly okay cartoons....I don't think India is that haven of creative thinking any longer, "
Rushdie further said said that he was tired of religion demanding special privileges. "There's no other idea in the world that demands protection. If ideas are strong, they can stand criticism."
Rushdie also rubbished reports that his film Midnight's Children has not found an Indian distributor. "I saw some stupid stories saying that India was insisting my voiceover narration be taken off the film so that it could be shown - and that's just garbage," he claimed.
Meanwhile, an Iranian religious foundation has raised its reward for the killing of British writer Salman Rushdie to $3.3 million, a media report said. The reward of the 15 Khordad Foundation was increased by $500,000, the ISNA news agency reported Sunday.
The announcement comes amidst a wave of riots that swept acrosss the globe after the release of the US-made short film titled Innocence of Muslims, although the novelist has nothing to do with this movie.
Rushdie, an Indian-born British writer, was condemned to death in 1989 by Iran's late religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, over his novel The Satanic Verses.
The Iranian leader dubbed the novel as blasphemous and offensive to Islam and issued a fatwa (religious edict) calling for Rushdie's death. The initial bounty for the writer's head was $1 million but has been increased several times since.