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Rushdie will attend 'India Today' meet, so Imran WON'T

Last updated on: March 14, 2012 18:41 IST

Image: Imran Khan

Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Wednesday pulled out of the upcoming India Today Conclave in New Delhi, citing the presence of controversial author Salman Rushdie at the same event.

In a statement issued by his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, Khan said he "could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie, who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe."

Khan was scheduled to participate as a keynote speaker in the conclave being organised by India Today magazine on March 16-17. He expressed his regrets to the organisers.

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Rushdie will attend meet, so Imran WON'T

Image: Salman Rushdie

The statement said Khan "only received and saw the full programme of the conclave last evening and took action early this morning to cancel his participation".

The organisers of the conclave announced on Tuesday that Rushdie would speak at the meet on the theme: The Liberty Verses – I am What I Am and That's All That I Am.

"We deeply regret that Imran Khan will not address the India Today Conclave because of Salman Rushdie's participation," Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of the India Today Group said in a statement in New Delhi.

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Rushdie will attend meet, so Imran WON'T

Image: The cover of 'The Satanic Verses'

"The India Today Conclave is a platform for free and frank exchange of ideas. 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 is an essential principle of a free nation and free media," he said.

"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," Purie added.

Rushdie was forced to withdraw from the Jaipur Literature Festival in January following protests by Muslim groups.

His 1988 novel The Satanic Verses is still banned in India for alleged blasphemy against Islam.

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