“M.F. Husain Went Into Self-Imposed Exile After Threats by Hindus Offended by His Work”

The Christian Science Monitor has an obituary of M.F. Husain, said to have been one of India’s leading painters. The story goes into some detail about Husain’s having gotten physical threats and been sued based on his work:

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a group whose goals include stopping the “denigration of Hindu righteousness,” protested his nude depictions of various Hindu deities. They also objected to one painting showing the borders of India formed by a nude woman’s outline.

Husain, a Muslim, faced a flood of lawsuits for “promoting enmity between groups.” Courts dismissed the initial cases, but Hindu activists have since filed some 900 cases against Husain around the country, says Geeta Seshu, head of the Free Speech Hub in Mumbai.

Sometimes the harassment turned violent. Activists from the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu youth organization, attacked Husain’s home in 1998 and have vandalized his artwork. Facing death threats, the painter moved to Dubai in 2006 and took citizenship in Qatar last year….

A religiously diverse country, India occasionally witnesses outbreaks of communal rioting. To keep the peace, the Indian government has at times prioritized religious sentiment over freedom of expression, banning Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” after Muslim protests, for example….