Page One

Rushdie on the road...

By Emily Fredrix
Saturday October 05, 2002

ST. LOUIS – Author Salman Rushdie says his trips through airport security lines are slow again. 

At first, the author said he took the attention personally, remembering his years of hiding after his novel, “The Satanic Verses,” generated death threats from Muslims who found the work insulting to Islam. 

But Rushdie said he asked around and learned that he is being singled out because he’s a book-touring author with a perpetual one-way ticket. 

“It’s one of the problems of book touring,” he said Wednesday from Minneapolis, a stop on an American and Canadian book tour that brought him to St. Louis for an appearance at Washington University Thursday and another on Friday. The author was in Berkeley last month. 

And when he goes through airport security checks, he said, “I meticulously remove my shoes and inform them I do not have box cutters; I don’t plan on hijacking a plane any time soon.” 

The 55-year-old Rushdie, author of “The Moor’s Last Sigh,” “Shame” and “Midnight’s Children,” which won the Booker Prize, is currently promoting “Step Across This Line,” a book of essays that includes descriptions of his nine years of hiding because of a fatwa death edict. 

His visit to Washington University had been scheduled for last October, but university officials postponed it because local police said they could not provide adequate support for the event in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1988 fatwa — or Islamic edict — against Rushdie was lifted by the Iranian government in 1998, the author has regained his freedom, moving to New York from London and traveling at will throughout the world. Rushdie was born Muslim but says he no longer practices the religion. 

“For almost four years I have had a pretty uneventful, security-free existence,” Rushdie said. 

In his new book, he gives advice to Americans about living with terrorism in a post-9/11 world. 

“The thing about fear is you’ve just got to get over it,” he said. “Living with danger is not going to stop you.”