New Delhi: Drawing parallels with late painter MF Husain, artist-activist group Sahmat on Monday extended an invitation to Salman Rushdie, author of 'The Satanic Verses', who has had to stay away from the Jaipur Literature Festival over alleged security threats.

“We have watched with dismay the unnecessary controversy which erupted over the presence of Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Literary Festival. We strongly disapprove the threats - real or concocted - issued against Rushdie's participation,” Sahmat member Ram Rahman said in a statement.

The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat) said the works of contemporary Indian painter MF Hussain would also be on display to coincide with his visit.

“Sahmat is issuing an open invitation to Salman Rushdie to come to Delhi to deliver a lecture or participate in a discussion on literature at any time of his choosing,” he said.

“We will host him under any circumstances along with an exhibition of the works of the late MF Husain, driven into forced exile by a similar retreat by the state in its cowardly unwillingness to stand up against communal politics,” he said.

Hussain died in London June last year, after years of self-exile following threats from some Hindu organisations.

“The state has once again succumbed to retrogressive forces using works of creative expression for their own narrow, partisan and divisive political agendas,” he said.

Rushdie had to cancel his scheduled visit to the festival in Jaipur over security fears. First the proposed trip evoked protests from Muslim groups over his book 'The Satanic Verses', and then there were alleged threats from the underworld.

(Agencies)