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Rediff.com  » News » I am glad I wrote 'Satanic Verses': Rushdie

I am glad I wrote 'Satanic Verses': Rushdie

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October 01, 2008 16:59 IST

Notwithstanding the death threats he faced for over a decade for penning the controversial book, India-born author Sir Salman Rushdie says he is still glad that he wrote The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie's remarks about the book he wrote 20 years ago came in the second of a series of interviews with leading cultural figures filmed exclusively for The Times daily.

He said he would regret not having written a book confronting major religious and philosophical questions.

"The question I am always asking myself is; are we masters or victims? Do we make history or does history make us? Do we shape the world or are we just shaped by it?

"The question of do we have agency in our lives or whether we are just passive victims of events, I think, a great question and one that I have always tried to ask. In that sense I wouldn't not have wanted to be the writer that asked it," he told Australian broadcaster Cilve James.

Rushdie's comments came at a time when extremists have again driven a literary figure into hiding -- this time Martin Rynja, a Dutch-born London publisher who had agreed to release The Jewel of Medina, a controversial novel about the Prophet Muhammad.

Rynja's home in Islington was firebombed on Saturday. Under-cover police tipped him off hours earlier and arrested three men from East London.

Rushdie, in the interview, said he is an atheist who found dead religions 'much more attractive' but added he has nothing against true believers until their faith spills over into the public sphere and becomes 'my business'.

The Satanic Verses was banned in India, and Ayatollah Khomeini, then supreme leader of Iran, in 1989 issued a 'fatwa' calling on all Muslims to murder Rushdie forcing him to go into hiding for the best part of ten years.

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