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Malaysians, Taliban, protest at Rushdie honor
June 20, 2007 / 6:51 AM / 10 years ago

Malaysians, Taliban, protest at Rushdie honor

<p>A supporter of Malaysia's Islamic party prays during a protest outside the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur June 20, 2007. The protest was against the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel the "Satanic Verses" outraged Muslims worldwide.Zainal Abd Halim</p>

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Supporters of Malaysia's hardline Islamic party protested outside the British embassy on Wednesday against the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel the "Satanic Verses" outraged Muslims worldwide.

Chanting "Destroy Salman Rushdie" and "Destroy Britain," some 30 members of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia urged Britain to withdraw the honor or risk the consequences.

"This has tainted the whole knighthood, the whole hall of fame of the British system," party treasurer Hatta Ramli told reporters after the party handed a protest note to embassy officials.

"The British government must be responsible because it has created a sudden feeling of anger not just on Salman Rushdie but on the British government," he said. "They have to bear the consequences." he said.

About 40 policemen, including a dozen armed with batons, stood by. A spokesman at the British High Commission was not immediately available for comment.

Rushdie, whose book prompted late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a 1989 fatwa death warrant against him for blasphemy, was awarded a knighthood last week for services to literature in Queen Elizabeth's birthday honors list.

<p>A supporter of Malaysia's Islamic party shouts slogans during a protest outside the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur June 20, 2007. The protest was against the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel the "Satanic Verses" outraged Muslims worldwide.Zainal Abd Halim</p>

On Tuesday, Muslim countries Iran and Pakistan summoned top British envoys to protest against the award. Small protests have taken place in several Pakistani cities.

Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents also condemned the knighthood for the "apostate" British writer, who was born into a Muslim family in India in 1947.

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"We ... consider this another major affront to Islam by the infidels," said a Taliban spokesman, reading a statement from the group's leadership council over the telephone.

Afghanistan's Western-backed government has not commented on the award and there have been no protests.

The "Satanic Verses" prompted protests, some violent, by Muslims in many countries after it was published in 1988. Muslims say the novel blasphemed against the Prophet Mohammad and ridiculed the Koran and events in early Muslim history.

In 1998 Iran's government formally distanced itself from the original fatwa, which had forced Rushdie into hiding for nine years. But hardline groups in Iran regularly renew the call for his murder, saying Khomeini's fatwa is irrevocable.

Additional reporting by Sayed Salahuddin in KABUL

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