Rushdie, still facing fatwa, to appear in Heights

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Millions of Muslims want him dead — but you can see Salman Rushdie live in Brooklyn Heights next month.

Rushdie, whose 1988 book, “The Satanic Verses,” rubbed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini the wrong way (is there a right way to rub an Ayatollah?), will speak about his life, literary career and the world today at St. Francis College on Remsen Street on March 9.

Though he’s published six novels since “The Satanic Verses,” Rushdie remains best known for that sprawling work, which earned him infamy throughout the Islamic world for a passage that suggested that the monotheistic prophet Mohammed once prayed to a mystical bird goddess.

As a result, Khomeini issued a call for Muslims worldwide to kill him. The “fatwa” drove Rushdie underground for a decade.

The author remained safely hidden away by Scotland Yard throughout the 1990s, but several writers who translated the book into other languages were attacked, and a Japanese translator killed, by edict-inspired assailants. Fury over the book even led to a 1993 massacre in Turkey that claimed 37 lives.

A spokesman for St. Francis College said the school discussed with the NYPD whether to beef up security for the lecture, but did not feel “the need for extra security” because “the ‘fatwa’ was lifted some time ago,” said the spokesman, Richard Relkin.

The NYPD did not return calls.

Rushdie didn’t, either, but he did admit last month that he never feels completely at ease, telling an interviewer that the Ayatollah’s bounty remains “the albatross around my neck.”

The writer has a reason for concern. After all, just this week, Iran’s government reminded the world that the fatwa against Rushdie has technically never been rescinded because such a spiritual edict can only be rescinded by the leader who issued it.

And Khomeini died in 1989.

“The fatwa is still valid,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said.

Hmm, sounds like this is going to be one great event on Remsen Street.

Salman Rushdie at St. Francis College [180 Remsen St., between Court and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 489-5214], March 9 at 12:30 pm. Free. RSVP requested.

Updated 5:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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