`UK prince refused to back Rushdie over Satanic Verses fatwa`

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 20:37

London: Prince Charles had turned his back on India-born Salman Rushdie after a fatwa was issued against him for his controversial novel `The Satanic Verses` because he thought the book was offensive to Muslims, a British author has claimed.

Martin Amis claims that the Prince of Wales` views caused a row at a dinner party after Rushdie was issued with the death sentence by Islamic clerics in 1989.

In an interview with `Vanity Fair` magazine, he claims that the heir to the British throne told him that he would not offer support "if someone insults someone else`s deepest convictions".
Amis is quoted as saying, "I had an argument with Prince Charles at a small dinner party. And I said that a novel doesn`t set out to insult anyone: `It sets out to give pleasure to its readers,` I told him.

"A novel is an essentially playful undertaking, and this is an exceedingly playful novel. The Prince took it on board, but I`d suppose the next night at a different party he would have said the same thing."

`Vanity Fair`, marking 25 years since the fatwa was issued by the Iranian government under Ayatollah Khomeini, has asked a group of novelists here about their memories of the time.

Stephen King told the magazine that he intervened on Rushdie`s behalf after an American book chain said it would not be stocking `The Satanic Verses`.
Ian McEwan remembered a dinner party he held for the fugitive Rushdie at his Gloucestershire cottage, and "standing the next morning with Salman in the country kitchen, a grey English morning, and he was the lead item on the BBC ? another Middle East figure saying he too would condemn him to death.

"It was a very sad moment standing buttering toast and listening to that awful message on the radio".

Rushdie, 66, himself told `Vanity Fair` that "Ian was very upset. For me, there were threats like this every day, sometimes two or three times...I was shaken, I`m sure, but Ian is a loving man, and I think he was even more shaken than I was by the violence of the assault on his friend."

The Booker Prize winning author also recalled novelist Graham Greene calling out to him during a lunch at London`s Reform Club in 1989: "Rushdie! Come and sit here and tell me how you managed to make so much trouble! I never made nearly as much trouble as that!"

Rushdie described Greene`s salute as "oddly comforting" as "England`s most famous living author was making light of the fix he was in".

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 20:37

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