Salman Rushdie may not have survived if he published his controversial The Satanic Verses today, because the febrile world of the internet has made death threats commonplace, the author has said.
Rushdie, who was placed under a fatwa in 1989 in response to the book, said the web has made hostility grow “exponentially”, with serious threats becoming “everyday”.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, he said he would have less chance of surviving if he published the novel today thanks to the increased dangers.
He added he would still publish it, saying the world is not “so craven and cowardly” it would be impossible.
The novel, published in 1988, provoked fury within parts of the Muslim community which believed it was blasphemous and mocking their faith. The book was banned and burned in places, with Rushdie placed under police protection for fear of assassination…
He added it is becoming more frequent for people who “don’t like something” to ” immediately issue threats”, saying: “It’s become commonplace now.”
“Back in the Stone Age of 1989 it was very unusual,” he said. “One of the sad things about this quarter of a century is that something that was very unusual has become every day.