Celebrated novelist and onetime Padma Lakshmi-satisfier Salman Rushdie has canceled a planned appearance at a major literary festival in India after receiving a tip that his life may be in danger.
He released this statement on the threat, via CNN:
"I have now been informed by intelligence sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to 'eliminate' me.
"While I have some doubts about the accuracy of this intelligence, it would be irresponsible of me to come to the festival in such circumstances; irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience, and to my fellow writers. I will therefore not travel to Jaipur as planned."
The threat of assassination has hung over Rushdie since 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death decree against him over what was deemed to be "blasphemous" passages against Islam in the novel The Satanic Verses. That same year, two floors of a London hotel were destroyed after a book bomb detonated prematurely. A shrine to the would-be assassin, Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh, stands in a Tehran cemetery.
The book remains banned in India, one of 12 countries worldwide to do so.