Rushdie ban opposer quits

August 15, 1997

A leading Indian historian who was condemned by Muslim fanatics for opposing the ban on Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses has resigned as pro vice chancellor of Delhi's Jamia Millia University.

Mushirul Hasan left saying: "I want a clean break with an institution that has given pain to me, my family and my friends."

The university is believed to be heavily influenced by the Muslim political class, though its funding comes from central government.

Professor Hasan has been in the eye of a storm since April 1992, when he said in a magazine interview that banning The Satanic Verses was undemocratic and an attack on freedom of expression. Jamia's students and teachers, with the support of some Muslim politicians, began a protest demanding his resignation or dismissal. They barred his entry into the campus and for four years - until police intervention last October - he stayed home with security cover.

Several teachers' organisations and liberal Muslims have criticised the government for "succumbing to fundamentalists", and said the situation at Jamia would encourage "the fanatic fringe" in other universities. Professor Hasan has said that his exit would "weaken the liberal opinion", which he had been able to build.

He has worked extensively on divisions in India and his latest book, Legacy of a Divided Nation: India's Muslims since Independence, was released at the Nehru Centre in London in June.

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