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Salman Rushdie now a lecturer

Author Salman Rushdie started a five-year appointment with the Emory University faculty on Tuesday.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2007 19:21 IST

Author Salman Rushdie started a five-year appointment with the Emory University faculty on Tuesday, one day before the 18th anniversary of the death threat that catapulted him into worldwide fame.

Rushdie says he still receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year on February 14 letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him. His comment came as the author of The Satanic Verses started a five-year appointment Tuesday with Emory University, one day before the 18th anniversary of the death threat that catapulted him into worldwide fame.

Rushdie was forced into hiding for a decade after the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a 1989 fatwa, or opinion on Islamic law, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because the book allegedly insulted Islam.

In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa. But the yearly notes continue. "It's reached the point where it's a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat," Rushdie said.

The 59-year-old Rushdie is also donating his archive to the university, including a diary of his decade in hiding and two early, unpublished novels.

Rushdie said this will be his only long-term commitment with a US university because he wants to focus on writing more novels. He said he picked Emory "because they asked me and nobody else ever had." He will lecture, teach and work with students for several weeks each year.

The archive will include notes, photographs, manuscripts, letters and two of Rushdie's early unpublished novels. It also features the private journal Rushdie kept detailing his life under the fatwa, said Steve Enniss, director of Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Books Library.

Emory spokeswoman Elaine Justice declined to say whether the university would increase security while Rushdie is on campus. "We'll do whatever it takes for Mr. Rushdie to feel comfortable," Justice said.

First Published: Feb 14, 2007 23:30 IST