Salman Rushdie: 'Satanic Verses controversy was precursor to 9/11'

The British Indian writer spent more than ten years in hiding after his novel sparked a storm of protests among hardline Muslims and led to then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini proclaiming a fatwa against Rushdie, demanding his death.

The author is adamant the scandal was an indication of the extreme lengths radicalised Islamists will go to to defend their religion, which peaked on 11 September, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists murdered almost 3,000 people in a string of co-ordinated suicide attacks in the U.S.

Rushdie tells Sky News, "You always have clear vision with hindsight. Nobody, including me, could have predicted the scale on which this confrontation would take place but I certainly was aware of the phenomenon of radical Islam...

"One of the reasons I use this metaphor of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is that what happened with The Satanic Verses was in a way the arrival of the first blackbird. At the time, nobody really understood it. We didn't have context for it. It's just one blackbird. It's only when the sky later fills with birds that you are able to remember, 'Oh yeah, that happened right at the beginning'."

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