Celebrated author Salman Rushdie is dismissing the latest threat against his life as just talk. The latest death threat is a renewal of the one that Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made in 1989.
Speaking to a crowd at Barnes & Noble in Union Square on Tuesday night, Rushdie stated that, “This was essentially one priest in Iran looking for a headline,” reports ABC News.
The death threat by Khomeini was made after the publishing of The Satanic Verses, which the then-Iranian leader called blasphemous, because of the way he depicted the Prophet Mohammed.
While Iran’s government has long sought to distance itself from Khomeni’s death decree, anti-Rushdie sentiments still remain in the country.
Along with news that Iran wishes to prosecute those responsible for making the anti-Islam film that has caused protests throughout the Muslim world, Ayatollah Hassan Saneii raised the bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie, in response, has called the amateur film “the worst video on YouTube,” and added that Saneii has been offering the bounty for a long time, but few people have actually taken him seriously.
The Denver Post notes that Rushdie was in New York to speak about his memoir, Anton Joseph, which talks about his rise in popularity with Midnight’s Children, and his notoriety with The Satanic Verses, which led to protests and government sanctions. For a while, the author was forced into hiding, where he used the pseudonym Anton Joseph to keep him alive.
While advising the audience on Tuesday to, “Avoid being condemned to death by the leader of a tyrannical country,” he also said that terrorism is actually the art of fear, and that, “The only way you can defeat it is by deciding not to be afraid.”