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Rushdie slams reaction to 'stupid' anti-Islam film

Published on Sep 17, 2012 8:25 PM
 
Writer Salman Rushdie arrives at the "Midnight's Children" Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on Sept 9, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. -- PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - British author Salman Rushdie, wanted dead by Islamic extremists, has described as "disgusting" the anti-American attacks across the world by angry Muslims over a "stupid" film mocking Islam.

He said the video on YouTube "looks like the worst little clip ever made", but there could be no justification for responding with "mayhem and murder".

An Iranian foundation has reportedly increased a bounty for the death of Rushdie to US$3.3 million (S$4 million), saying that if he had previously been killed for blasphemy, the film currently enraging Muslims would never have been made.

Since 1989, the Indian-born author has been the target of a Iranian fatwa calling for his murder for allegedly blaspheming Islam and its Prophet Mohammed in his book The Satanic Verses.

In an interview with India's NDTV television channel in London, posted on their website on Monday, Rushdie said the anti-Islam video was "clearly a very highly manipulative incident".

"But it's more disgusting to attack and murder people who have nothing to do with it," he said, without referring to the bounty on his own head.

"This idea that somehow 'America' is responsible for the deeds of every American is a stupid mistake, and in this case is a fatal mistake," he said.

The film, which mocks the Prophet Mohammed, is thought to have been produced by a small group of Christian extremists in the United States and has sparked violent anti-American protests across the Islamic world.

Iranian media quoted a statement from Hassan Sane'i, a cleric heading the 15 of Khordad Foundation, saying he was "adding another US$500,000 to the reward for killing Rushdie".

Unless Rushdie is killed, "the movie offending the prophet will not be the last contemptuous attempt", the foundation's statement was quoted as saying.

Rushdie told another Indian channel, CNN-IBN, that a "harsher, less tolerant Islam" had developed in his lifetime, with young people close to destitution attracted to the "jihad" to give them a sense of purpose.

Rushdie also slammed India, where The Satanic Verses is still banned, for being "thin skinned" and increasingly censorious of works of art.

The director of a new film of Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children, set in India after independence, has said it may not be released in the author's native country as "insecure politicians" had hindered the search for a distributor.

Rushdie pointed to the recent arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, accused of sedition for his anti-corruption cartoons that lampooned the Indian government.

"There's no such thing as a respectful political cartoon," Rushdie said.