India-born author Salman Rushdie is undeterred by new threats to his life in the aftermath of the protests against an anti-Islam film and said they were products of an “outrage industry’’.

Rushdie had spent nearly a decade in hiding after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him in 1989 following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, considered offensive to Islam.

As violent protests broke out this month in West Asia over the anti-Islam film, there were reports that semi-official Iranian religious foundation, headed by Ayatollah Hassan Saneii, has raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie termed the threat a latest product of the “outrage industry” adding that there is “no evidence” of people being interested in the bounty, a report in ABC News said.

“This was essentially one priest in Iran looking for a headline,” Rushdie said referring to Khomeini’s decree in 1989.

He was speaking at a bookstore in Manhattan where he was promoting his memoir ‘Joseph Anton’ which details his life in hiding following the fatwa.

Rushdie has described the anti-Islam movie as a “malicious” attempt to provoke people.

“I think he (the filmmaker) has done something malicious, and that is a very different thing from writing a serious novel.

“He is clearly set out to provoke, and he has obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for. One of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting,” Rushdie had said in an interview earlier this week.

In a letter to booksellers, coinciding with the launch of his memoir, Rushdie expressed gratitude to the American writers who “gathered together in a show of almost complete unity to defend freedom of speech” after the fatwa was issued against him.

Rushdie said he will “never forget” that “the independent booksellers of America put the book (The Satanic Verses) in windows, mounted special displays, and courageously stood up for freedom against censorship, refusing to allow the choices of American readers to be limited by the threats of an angry despotic cleric far away”.

(This article was published on September 20, 2012)
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