Sometime late last year a Twitter handle @RushdieExplains (now changed to @IndiaExplained) which called itself “Rushdie Explains India” became visible, thanks mostly re-tweets and media mentions by some celebrity journalists.
The account was supposed to be “parody” of the well known India born English author Salman Rushdie, who is known for his frank views on many things including religious fundamentalism.
Apart from celebrity journalists, who desperately wanted “their type of humor” as most humorous and parody accounts on Twitter targeted them, Rushdie himself enjoyed some tweets from the Twitter account in the initial days:
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) December 23, 2014
However, as they say “all good things must come to an end”, everything good about that parody account ended today as Salman Rushdie tweeted this:
Dear @RushdieExplains, the joke has worn thin. I’m tired of having your opinions ascribed to me. Pls tweet under your own name. Thanks.
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) July 14, 2015
So what irritated and disappointed a once admirer and well wisher that he was forced to publicly express his displeasure?
If you are one of them who have followed @RushdieExplains on Twitter, you most probably know the answer. The person who was running this Twitter account had started taking benefit of using the name of Salman Rushdie to propagate his own biases and prejudices and fight his personal battles.
The person, someone called Rohit Chopra as the ‘bio’ of the handle said, had run out of all objectivity and was tweeting as a person filled with hatred for a particular ideology and some particular individuals.
And the worst part was @RushdieExplains hobnobbing with some anonymous Twitter handles that were cheerleaders for Islamic fundamentalism at worst or apologists of the same at best. This could surely not have amused Salman Rushdie who has a bounty over his head issue by Islamists.
Not only that, Rushdie has been vocal against “but brigade” i.e. people who never condemn Islamic fundamentalism unequivocally and would always bring in false equivalences when debating problems within the Islamic society – a trait that is also found in people known as “Adarsh Liberals” in India.
While Rushdie detests all form of fundamentalism, and has made comments against Hindu fundamentalism in India too, his parody account was acting as an apologist for Islamic fundamentalism in India of late, bringing in false equivalences, such as:
They are booked for it, under a Facist Hindu regime? BJP is doing this dictatorship all wrong! pic.twitter.com/m10tRVW7nf
— IftaRatty (@YearOfRat) July 10, 2015
Apart from acting as an apologist of Islamic fundamentalists, the account was also being used to further personal interests and release personal frustration by the handler. The so-called parody of Salman Rushdie will often make personal comments against journalists like Rahul Kanwal of India Today and Smita Prakash of ANI.
Not only journalists, the account targeted economists like Rupa Subramanya and satirists like Ajayender Reddy of The UnReal Times, just because they pointed out logical fallacies in his tweets.
The tweets from the account were increasingly becoming vicious and political in nature, attacking only one group of people. Funnily, the account header had the following picture:
The account handler should have known that he had made a set of ideas free from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt – and those ideas were the “idea of India”. The account had become an Adarsh Liberal pamphleteer.
Clearly such immature and propagandist behavior by the handler, who perhaps thought himself to have grown bigger than the mask he was wearing, didn’t impress the original Salman Rushdie and he decided to express his dissatisfaction openly today.
After the public rebuke, the handler changed his username, hinting that he was not ready to change his ways and continue doing what was not appreciated by Rushdie. Interestingly, the original parody handle @RushdieExplains is still alive, and it is yet to be seen what tweets come out of it.