Renowned painter MF Husain, who has accepted Qatar nationality, feels that the attack against him by right wing outfits in India that forced him into exile for 12 years was targetted at art and self-expression rather than his Muslim identity.
"I have not intended to denigrate or hurt the beliefs of anyone through my art. I only give expression to the instincts
from my soul," the 95 year-old painter said in an interview to Malayalam daily Madhyamam from Qatar capital Doha.
Husain said it was with "deep pain" in his heart that he was giving up Indian citizenship. "India is my soul. But the
country has rejected me," he said.
"India is my motherland and I can never hate the country. But the political leadership, artists and intellectuals kept
silent when Sangh Parivar forces attacked me. How can I live there in such a situation?" he asked.
Husain said he knew that 90 per cent of Indians loved him and a small minority, including a handful of politicians were
the only people who were opposed to him.
"I am happy that there are people in all parts of the world who love me," he said. He said successive governments in India had failed to ensure protection to him during repeated threats from right wing extremists.
"For politicians, only votes are important. No government had called me back to India till now. They are inviting me
when another country offered me citizenship. How can I trust the political leadership now," Husain said.
Days after Husain was conferred Qatari citizenship, the Government of India had yesterday said it would be happy to
see him return to the country and it would not allow any threat to him.
"We would be very happy if MF Husain returns to India," Home Minister P Chidambaram had said, adding the eminent
painter's family had been informed that full security would be provided to him if the artist decides to return.
With a spate of cases staring him at his face in India over his controversial paintings of Hindu Gods and Goddesses,
Husain has been living abroad for nearly four years.
Husain said the language of art was always universal. "My strength is that I love the language of art without being
narrow-minded," he said.
The artist said he was enjoying all freedom in Qatar. "There is no control over my thoughts, opinions and there is
no threat from any quarter. From now on, Qatar is my land and I am happy here," he said.
Husain said he would like to visit India if he got a chance as the people in the country loved him. He said he respected Keralites who had always backed him to the hilt.
The Kerala government had last year conferred upon Husain 'Raja Ravivarma Puraskaram'. However, he could not come to receive the award.