Salman Rushdie Hits Back

Tuesday, November 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) — Author Salman Rushdie is hitting back at critics who say he is ungrateful to Britain for spending money to protect him against an Islamic death edict.

The 1989 edict ordered his death for allegedly committing blasphemy in his novel ``The Satanic Verses.''

Rushdie, who now lives in New York, wrote in Sunday's editions of the Independent newspaper that ``so much commentary lacks ... understanding and compassion'' for his ordeal.

``It is plain that I am to be periodically vilified for the multiple crimes of surviving a decade of state-sponsored terrorism, defending the integrity of my work ... retaining my sanity and continuing, in very difficult circumstances, to write,'' Rushdie wrote.

Referring to press reports that have depicted a celebrity-fueled lifestyle and suggested too much taxpayer money was spent protecting him, his commentary was headlined: ``Facts: I pay tax, I'm not a playboy, and I've never met Grace Jones.''

The Iranian government ended its endorsement of the edict, issued by the late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1998. However, under Islamic law only the person who issued such a decree can revoke it. Iranian hard-line groups have renewed calls for Rushdie's death.