Salman Rushdie praised Gita Sahgal for bravely supporting him and his book Satanic Verses at a time when he was living under the shadow of death following the Iranian Fatwa that put $33 lakh on his head.
Gita is an activist and a champion of women’s and human rights.“…Allies came forward as well as opponents….met Gita Sahgal, a writer and activist for women’s rights and human rights whose mother was the distinguished Indian novelist Nayantara Sahgal, and whose great-uncle was Jawaharlal Nehru himself,” recalls Rushdie in his latest book -Joseph Anton, A Memoir.
Apart from highlighting Sahgal’s courage in the face of fundamentalists who had burned the Satanic Verses at different places in the world, Rushdie was pleased to learn how she courageously argued against Muslims in his support.
“Gita was one of the founders of Women Against Fundamentalism, a group that tried, with some courage, to argue against the Muslim demonstrators. On 28 January 1989, perhaps eight thousand Muslims marched through the streets of London to gather in Hyde Park.
“Gita and her colleagues set up a counter-demonstration to challenge the marchers, and they were physically assaulted and even knocked to the ground. This did not diminish their resolve,” Rushdie accounts in his memoir.
The author, however, takes a pot shot at Britain’s Labour Party—a party Rushdie had been a supporter all his life—because its parliamentarians were jumping on the Muslim bandwagon and Rushdie noted gloomily that the true conservatives of Britain are now in the Labour Party while the radicals are all in blue.