Rushdie factor: Imran Khan stays away from India Today conclave

New Delhi : Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan would not be attending the two-day India Today conclave because of the presence of “The Satanic Veres” author Salman Rushdie, the organisers announced Wednesday.

“We deeply regret that Imran Khan will not address the India Today Conclave because of Salman Rushdie’s participation. The India Today Conclave is a platform for free and frank exchange of ideas,” India Today Group chairman Aroon Purie in a statement.

“We do not endorse the views of any of our speakers but we do stand for the freedom of expression in all that we do; it’s an essential principle of a free nation and free media,” he said in a statement.

“We wish that Imran had used this opportunity to express his views at the Conclave with all the force and lucidity that he possesses. We can all agree to disagree but we must present our argument,” it added.

The India Today Conclave is being held March 16-17.

Rushdie could not attend the Jaipur literary festival in January this year and his video address was also cancelled after several Islamic groups demanded that he should not be allowed to come to India for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of the community in “The Satanic Verses” published in 1988.

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