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Rushdie mourns Satanic victims.

SORROWFUL Salman Rushdie yesterday paid tribute to people killed or injured because of his book The Satanic Verses.

He told a packed news conference that there had been a "dreadful waste of human life" and added: "I regret that."

The author spoke out after Iran lifted its nine-year death threat on him for writing the controversial book.

Mr Rushdie specifically mentioned a Japanese translator stabbed to death, an Italian also knifed and a Norwegian publisher hit by a murder bid.

He added: "I would like to say that I am sorrowful for all the people who have died in demonstrations against The Satanic Verses, particularly in the subcontinent.

"I feel in many cases the people did not even know what they were demonstrating against."

Iran's removal of the death threat was rewarded by Britain with a resumption of full diplo- matic relations.

Mr Rushdie has been a marked man since the Islamic fatwa was issued against him in 1989.

Ayatollah Khomeini said The Satanic Verses blasphemed against Islam. The fatwa cannot be withdrawn, but its threat is drastically reduced by Iran's move.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that his Government had "no intention" of harming or helping anyone to harm Mr Rushdie.

The author stressed that he would not apologise for writing the book.

He told the BBC: "It seems to me that we have fought a colossal battle for freedom of speech.

"And it seems to me that 10 years of my life has been badly deformed."

Earlier, he told the news conference: "The reason we are all here, I guess, is to recognise the end of a dreadful terrorist threat against a citizen of another country. That is a great moment."

Mr Rushdie said he was now looking forward to "regaining his professional life."

He had been shown enormous affection during his nine years in hiding.

The author added: "People have been weeping at me down the phone over the last 24 hours - and I have been doing my own share of weeping."
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Linden, Martha
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 26, 1998
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