Thursday September 20, 2012

NEW YORK -- Salman Rush die is dismissing the latest threat against his life by a semi-official Iranian religious foundation headed by Ayatollah Hassan Saneii as just talk.

"This was essentially one priest in Iran looking for a headline," the author of "The Satanic Vers es" said Tuesday night as he spoke at a Barnes & Noble in Union Square before about 400 people, some just children when Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Kho mei ni in 1989 declared Rushdie’s novel was blasphemous and called for his death.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Kho meini’s decree, his fatwa, but anti-Rushdie sentiment remains.

Rushdie was discussing his me moir about the fatwa, "Joseph An ton," which has just been published to strong reviews and encouraging sales.

The book is named for the pseu donym Rushdie used while in hiding. Anton was for Anton Chek hov, the "poet of loneliness," and "Joseph" for Joseph Conrad, who penned a motto Rushdie tried to follow: "I must live till I die."

Rushdie made it, but he remembered those who nearly didn’t, in cluding the novel’s Norwegian pub lisher, shot three times in the back. That publisher not only pulled through, Rushdie observed, he made sure to order more copies of the book.

He says he’s proud of the book and of his fight for a most precious freedom -- freedom of expression. Terrorism is really the art of fear, he explained. "The only way you can defeat it is by deciding not to be afraid."