Swedish Academy denounces Rushdie fatwa

After a silence lasting 27 years, the Swedish institution which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature denounced Thursday the Iranian fatwa on British writer Salman Rushdie.
In a statement criticising the death sentence, or fatwa, the head of the Swedish Academy, Tomas Riad, said: ‘The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech.’
‘The principle of the independence of literature from political control is of fundamental importance for civilisation and must be defended against attacks by avengers and the adherents of censorship,’ he added.
Using the same principle of independence, the academy had originally declined to take a position on the 1989 fatwa on Rushdie, saying it was torn between showing its support for the author and maintaining its expressed neutrality.
The death threat was issued against Rushdie by Iran’s then supreme leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 for the novel ‘The Satanic Verses,’ which he deemed blasphemous
The fatwa was, as Rushdie wrote in his 2012 memoir, ‘a first note of the dark music.’
Born in India to non-practising Muslims and himself an atheist, Rushdie was forced to go underground.
The murder or attempted murder of his translators and publishers followed and the British government placed him under police protection.
Three members of the Swedish Academy, Kerstin Ekman, Werner Aspenstrom and Lars Gyllensten, had been critical of the institution’s decision to remain silent and refused to partipate in any of its work. They were not, however, permitted to resign.

source : the new age

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