Saudi Arabia protests over Czech 'Satanic Verses' 27 years after uproar

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2015 11:47 AM

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia summoned the Czech ambassador to protest against a new translation of Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses", state media said on Friday, 27 years after the novel triggered global demonstrations and a death threat against the author.

The kingdom told the ambassador the book insulted both Islam and Muslims and asked him to try and halt publication, the SPA agency added, citing a source in the Saudi foreign ministry.

There was no immediate comment from the Czech government, or from literary publisher Paseka which issued the edition in April. The translator used a pseudonym.

Rushdie's novel, first published in Britain in 1988, caused outrage among Muslims who deemed it blasphemous.

The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's supreme religious leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, a year later that called on Muslims to kill the British author.

That forced the writer to live in hiding for nine years. The book's Japanese translator was stabbed to death in 1991 and other people involved in publishing it worldwide have been attacked.

Rushdie's award-winning fourth novel has continued to provoke sporadic protests since the initial uproar.

Iran has threatened to boycott next week's Frankfurt book fair because Rushdie has been booked to give the opening address, a spokeswoman for the world's largest literary trade event said on Friday.

Rushdie's agent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The first Czech version of The Satanic Verses was published in 1994.

(Reporting By Maha El Dahan; Additional reporting by Kirsti Knolle in Franfurt and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Andrew Heavens)