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Britain justifies knighthood to Rushdie

Britain justifies the award of a knighthood to the controversial author and asserts it will not allow terrorist groups to undermine the British way of life.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2007 03:50 PM IST

Britain on Wednesday justified the award of a knighthood to controversial author Salman Rushdie and asserted that it would not allow terrorist groups to undermine the British way of life.

The justification came in the wake of threats issued by Al-Qaeda's deputy chief to punish the United Kingdom for honouring Rushdie.

"We do not intend to dignify this (Al-Qaeda's threats) with a response. As the Prime Minister has said, we will not allow terrorists to undermine the British way of life," a spokesperson for Gordon Brown said here. "The British people will remain united, resolute and strong."

Justifying the award of a knighthood to Rushdie, an official of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, "It was a reflection of his contribution to literature throughout a long and distinguished career."

"The government has already made it clear that Rushdie's honour was not intended as an insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad," the official said.

In an audio-taped message released recently on an Islamic website, the second-in-command to Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had said that a response was being prepared to retaliate for the honour.

The 20-minute address, titled 'Malicious Britain and its Indian slaves', pointed out that the Queen had sent a clear message to Muslims by honouring a novelist who had insulted Islam (allegedly in his book The Satanic Verses).

He also appeared to make a direct reference to the failed bomb plots in London and Glasgow.

Al-Zawahri said, "I say to (Tony) Blair's successor that the policy of your predecessor drew catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq and even in the centre of London."

"If you do not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you."

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