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Salman Rushdie cancels appearance at Indian literary festival after death threats

 

Manish Swarup / AP

Indian Muslims shout slogans against writer Salman Rushdie after Friday prayers in Jaipur, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, on Jan. 20, 2012. Rushdie canceled plans to appear at an Indian literature festival Friday after protests from Muslim clerics and warnings that he could be targeted for assassination.

The Associated Press reports from JAIPUR, India:

Booker-Prize winning author Salman Rushdie canceled plans to appear at an Indian literature festival Friday after protests from Muslim clerics and warnings that he could be targeted for assassination.

Rushdie's planned appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival had reawakened the long dormant controversy over his 1988 book "The Satanic Verses," which some Muslims consider blasphemous. He spent years in hiding after Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged he be killed for writing the book, which also was banned in India. Continue reading.

Rushdie, who had appeared at the festival in 2007 without incident, reacted on Twitter:

Very sad not to be at jaipur. I was told bombay mafia don issued weapons to 2 hitmen to "eliminate" me. Will do video link instead. Damn.

Novelist Hari Kunzru, who described Rushdie's absence as "a stain on India's international reputation", tweeted:

About to defy bigots and shoe throwers, reading @SalmanRushdie Satanic Verses on stage with @amitavakumar at #jaipur#jlf 

Prakash Singh / AFP - Getty Images

A visitor reads while sitting on the lawn during the Jaipur Literature Festival on Jan. 20, 2012.