Straw says, he's no fan of Rushdie

The leader of Britain's House of Commons says he understands the "concerns and sensitivity" of the Muslim community.

world Updated: Jun 22, 2007 17:47 IST

Jack Straw, the leader of Britain's House of Commons has joined the Salman Rushdie knighthood row saying he understood the "concerns and sensitivity" of the Muslim community, but added there was no "justification" for a new fatwa against the controversial author.

Straw, however, revealed his own doubts on whether Rushdie deserved the honour bestowed on him, saying he could not comprehend the author's writings.

"Of course I understand the concerns and sensitivity in the (Muslim) community. That said there can be no justification whatever for suggestions that as a result of this a further fatwa should be placed on the life of Mr Rushdie," Straw told MPs in the House of Commons.

Straw, whose Blackburn constituency has the highest proportion of Muslims in the UK, said he found Rushdie's books "rather difficult".

"I've never managed to get to the end of them, despite a basic rule I have which is if you start a book you have to finish it. I'm afraid his writing has defeated me."

Many in the Islamic world, especially in Iran and Pakistan, have condemned the knighthood of Rushdie, who was the subject of a fatwa after he published The Satanic Verses in 1988.

Clerics and even traders in Pakistan have renewed calls for Rushdie to be killed after Britain knighted him.

Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister Ijaz ul-Haq reportedly said in the Pakistani parliament that "If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British Government apologises and withdraws the 'Sir' title."

First Published: Jun 22, 2007 17:34 IST