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Title spells fresh trouble for Rushdie

'SIR' SALMAN Rushdie means trouble for the security agencies in Britain, reports Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Jun 19, 2007 05:29 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

'SIR' SALMAN Rushdie means trouble for the security agencies in Britain. They feel that knighthood to the author was given without any consideration of its impact on Islamic fanatics.

The Scotland Yard, which has started reviewing the security provided to Rushdie, is reportedly upset that the knighthood has been handed out when the terror threat is high.

Tehran on Sunday made angry noises about the writer, raising fears at the Yard that Islamic fanatics may again try to kill him. The fatwa against the author is still on as it could only be lifted by Ayatollah Khomeini, who is dead.

"It is unbelievable that he's been knighted at this current time. It's a finger up the nose of those after him and, as ever, the taxpayer will be left footing the bill," a security officer was quoted by Daily Mail as saying

Rushdie lived almost underground for nine years, guarded — at a cost of £1 million a year — round the clock by the Yard and MI5 after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini first called for his death 18 years ago following the publication of his allegedly blasphemous book, The Satanic Verses.

The threat was thought to have reduced after the late Foreign Secretary Robin Cook persuaded his Iranian counterpart in 1999 to distance itself from the fatwa.

But now the raised risk may force Rushdie, who presently spends most of his time in New York, to move to a new home equipped with sophisticated defensive measures. The Hindustan Times was told that such measures are periodically reviewed and especially when new threat crops up, but no details were given. It is said that officers from Counter Terrorism Command, which is responsible for the writer's safety, will undertake a full review.

The news that some students in Pakistan demonstrated and demanded that Britain withdraw the knighthood would cause further concern.

"This Knighthood won't increase Salman Rushdie's risk as a target for Islamic lunacy as he's under a fatwa and is a target all the time. He'll remain a target until they bury him," a commentator said.

First Published: Jun 19, 2007 05:28 IST