Rushdie comes clean on Islam

Updated on Apr 07, 2008 12:14 AM IST

Salman Rushdie confesses that he pretended to “embrace Islam” almost 18 years ago in the hope that it would lessen the threat to his life, reports Vijay Dutt.

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None | ByVijay Dutt, London

He embraced controversies rather than Islam.

An emotional Salman Rushdie “confessed” that he pretended to “embrace Islam” the religion of his birth, almost 18 years ago in the hope that it would lessen the threat to his life.

The India-born author’s novel, The Satanic Verses, had irked Muslims across the world and Ayatollah Khomenie had subsequently declared a fatwa against him.

In 1990, however, Rushdie had issued a statement saying he had renewed his faith in Islam. He had also said that he repudiated the attacks on Islam in his novel and was committed to working for better a understanding of the religion.

In an interview to be broadcast next month Rushdie claims his reversion to Islam was only “a pretence”. “It was deranged thinking. I was more off-balance than I ever had been, but you can’t imagine the pressure I was under,” he said.

“I simply thought I was making a statement of fellowship. As soon as I said it I felt as if I had ripped my own tongue out. It was the moment I hit rock bottom. I realised that my only survival mechanism was my own integrity. People, my friends, were angry with me, and that was the reaction I cared about,” he said.

Rushdie, 60, has claimed the criticism of the book upset him more than the fatwa.

The author who was appointed a Knight Bachelor for his services to literature in July last year, is in news with his latest book, The Enchantress of Florence.

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