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British author Salman Rushdie addresses the press during the presentation of his book “Joseph Anton” - AFP

BERLIN, Oct 01, 2012- British author Salman Rushdie said Monday that if a fatwa calling for his murder over his book “The Satanic Verses” had been issued in the social networking era, it would have further endangered his life.

The writer was in Berlin to publicise his new account of the near decade he spent in hiding and said the campaign against his 1988 book had been “very efficient and very international” with just phones and fax machines.

“There was essentially no email, no text messages, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Web, and that of course slowed down the attack,” he told a news conference. “When everybody can know everything instantly, it would have been possible to mobilise people against the book with much greater speed and would have been more dangerous now,” he added.

Rushdie also hit out at what he called a “culture of offendedness” saying it was absurd and threatened free expression to advocate the banning of works because people took offence. “This idea that somehow we can ask to live in a world where nothing offends us is an absurdity,” the 65-year-old Indian-born writer said.

His more than 600-page memoir “Joseph Anton”, named after his alias while in hiding and written in the third person, was published last month, just as deadly protests over a US-made film rocked the Muslim world.

“We live in this age in which there is this culture of offendedness. All sorts of people, not just Islamic radicals, use this argument as a way of attacking other forms of speech,” he said. “It simply has to be resisted a great deal because otherwise you lose something very precious, which is the right to free expression which was not easily won,” he added.

His candid account comes 23 years after Rushdie became the target of a Iranian fatwa, or religious edict, calling for his murder for allegedly blaspheming Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in his book “The Satanic Verses”.

He told India's NDTV last month that the film mocking Islam that enraged some in the Muslim world “looks like the worst little clip ever made” but there could be no justification for responding with “mayhem and murder”.

Rushdie, who has written 11 novels as well as short stories and non-fiction, said he did not believe the experience of living under the fatwa had had a profound impact on his way of writing. “I told myself very consciously... 'don't fall into the trap of fear and don't fall into the trap of revenge and just try and go on being the writer that you are',” he said.

Comments (22) Closed

Muhammad Oct 02, 2012 05:34am
It is shameful that a Pakistani newspaper is even publishing any words of Rushdie who hurt the feelings of millions of Muslims by his filth. You are gradually limiting your audience to a small leftist minority. Have some balance !!
Ding Oct 01, 2012 02:23pm
He is a Brave guy. I salute his courage and determination.
muthu Oct 02, 2012 03:33pm
I find many harping on the fact that holocaust denial is not permitted in europe. Holocaust did happen and european governments have only banned outlandish theories peddled by neo nazis that holocaust is a myth. This ban has been enforced only to prevent mass indoctrination by the european right. The european right is also dead against muslim migrants. Do my pakistani friends want that kind of tribe to grow in europe?
Asad Oct 01, 2012 04:36pm
It's a second article by dawn in 3 days, promoting Rushdie at a subliminal level. What? you want to portray such people as heroes??or are you lack of news?
Sudhir Oct 02, 2012 09:01am
I bet you make a worst of movie on jews and upload it on you tube... and no one would bother :). Try it :)........ this is something for you to understand
HAIDER Oct 02, 2012 07:58am
Zain M Oct 02, 2012 03:32am
Cannot understand why Dawn which I think is the most respected Pakistani newspaper find it necessary to give undue coverage to people like SR ? This guy has hurt the feelings of all Muslim people and you really think we want to know his opinions on Islamic affairs ?
Omi Oct 02, 2012 07:16am
Definitely yes !! he targets ones religion and called that as a freedom of speech. I want to suggest him that wirte just a line regarding jewish holocaust and we will see his results of admiration.
ANEES Oct 02, 2012 03:51am
AR Khan Oct 02, 2012 05:28am
Freedom of expression should not mean targeting one's religious beliefs. The staunch supporter of something "very precious i.e. Freedom of Expression", Mr Rushidie is invited to write a few lines on the Jewish Holocaust and experience the results. I wonder which place he will chose to hide himself then.
Adeel Khalid Oct 02, 2012 09:07am
@ DING , Ask him to write aginst HOLOCAUST as well. I will salute his courage too.
Nasir Oct 02, 2012 06:50am
He is a coward & tedious person, British Govt. is spending lot of money on his security, taxes collected from the British people they are wasting on wrong person. If Jews can legitimate their rights on Holocaust why Muslims can not make & protect their interests, there must be a international law for blasphemy to protect basics of all religions, otherwise you can't stop people to take law in their hands. May be they will learn hard lesson but I think it will be too late for them, after bloodshed.
kamran Oct 03, 2012 11:03am
A person who fails to safe guard his movements after a worldwide fatwa inciting people to his murder and deliberately comes into public, he will not be called brave.He will be called a fool.
kamran Oct 03, 2012 10:50am
Books have been written by numerous european scholars and historians denying holocaust. you jyust need to google a bit dear. And religion and God are trhe concepts that have been discussed in every way since the start of time you see. Oct 03, 2012 10:34am
very nice you are 100% right
ZioNazi Watch Group Oct 03, 2012 06:24am
So 'Freedom of Speech' is selectively exercised...and not absolute. There are always at least two sides to an issue. The one with the power and the gold makes the 'Golden Rule'. [PS: Your argument is not valid].
Sameer Oct 03, 2012 06:25am
If one doesn't like something, one shouldn't bother to read it.
Okhajut Oct 01, 2012 02:28pm
Talking about the the same old Fatwa so many years on? Well he does have a point though.
Truth Oct 02, 2012 06:57am
Bravery is not in writing against Islam. I will say him brave if he has the courage to portray Jewish Holocaust as valid. I challenge the people will not let him to come down from the podium even.
Zehra Oct 02, 2012 08:30am
Very Well Said!!!!!
ANEES Oct 02, 2012 09:32am
He is NOT brave. I call someone names and then hide here and there? Is it bravery? It is cowardice. Why is he still thinking about that Fatwa if he doesn't fear it?
NASAH (USA) Oct 02, 2012 12:54pm
If you carry your 'religious sentiments' on your insecure sleeves like a flower called "chooee tou mooee" (touch me and I die) -- you can always cause harm to yourself by your own self -- you don't need the mid-life crisis of Rushdi or the im-Bacile Nakoula to do it for you -- as happened on the "Ishq-e Rasool Day"