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Rushdie’s knighthood
Iran, Pak complain to UK envoys

Teheran, June 20
Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador to complain over Britain’s decision to grant a knighthood to controversial Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, who was accused of blasphemy by Iran’s former supreme leader for his book “The Satanic Verses,” the state news agency reported today.

In the meeting, Iranian foreign ministry official Ebrahim Rahimpour told ambassador Jeffrey Adams that the decision was a “provocative act” that has angered Muslims.

Adams said Rushdie was being honoured for his works of literature and underlined that the British government respects Islam, the state Islamic Republic News Agency said.

In the meeting held last evening, Adams promised to relay Teheran's protest to London.

Britain announced on Saturday that it would award Rushdie a knighthood, along with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, a KGB double agent and several others. — AP

Kuala Lumpur: Supporters of Malaysia’s hardline Islamic party protested outside the British embassy today against the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel the “Satanic Verses” had outraged Muslims worldwide.

Chanting “Destroy Salman Rushdie” and “Destroy Britain”, some 30 members of the Opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia urged Britain to withdraw the honour or risk the consequences.

“This has tainted the whole knighthood, the whole hall of fame of the British system,” party treasurer Hatta Ramli told mediapersons after the party handed a protest note to embassy officials. “The British government must be responsible because it has created a sudden feeling of anger not just on Salman Rushdie but on the British government,” he said.

Pakistan summoned its top British envoy yesterday to protest against the award. Small protests have taken place in several Pakistani cities.

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents also condemned the knighthood for the “apostate” British writer. — Reuters

Rushdie's career and controversies

* From India to England: Born into a Muslim family in Bombay on June 19, 1947, Rushdie moved to Pakistan with his family as a teenager before studying at England's Rugby School and the Cambridge University. After working briefly in television in Pakistan, he returned to England and started work as an advertising copywriter.

* From advertising to writing: Rushdie published his first novel, Grimus, in 1975, but shot to fame in 1981 when his second novel, Midnight's Children, a magic realist exploration of Indian history, won the Booker Prize. In 1993, the book was judged the 'Booker of Bookers' - the best winner in the Booker’s 25-year history.

* The Satanic Verses fatwa: Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's supreme religious leader, pronounced a fatwa on the writer in 1989, calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie because of the perceived blasphemy against Islam in The Satanic Verses. The novel was banned in India and South Africa for its irreverent depiction of early Islamic history.

* “The plague years”: He was however forced into hiding under the British government protection during what he called "plague years" up until 1998, when Iran said it no longer supported the fatwa.

* Veils and Women’s rights: In October 2006, Rushdie irritated conservatives by backing British politician Jack Straw's comments that he preferred Muslim women not to wear full face-covering veils when he was talking to them. — Reuters

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