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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 08:14 GMT
Airline bans author Rushdie
Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie has enraged Muslims in the past
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By the BBC's Mike Fox
In Montreal

The author Salman Rushdie has been banned from travelling on all Air Canada flights because the airline is concerned about the delays extra security measures would cause.

Mr Rushdie had faced a death threat contained in a fatwa issued in Iran in 1989, which said his book, the Satanic Verses, was blasphemous.

Extremist groups there in Iran still say they want to kill him

It has emerged that Air Canada introduced its ban in September before the attacks on the World Trade Center as a result of a new directive from the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.

This called for extra security measures to be introduced on any plane carrying high risk passengers, which Air Canada has decided includes Salman Rushdie.

The company said in an internal e-mail the checks would cause too much disruption and inconvenience to other passengers and Mr Rushdie should not be allowed to book flights with the airline.

24-hour protection

A company official said she could not say when the ban might be lifted or what the extra security measures might be.

Since 1989 Mr Rushdie has received round-the-clock security protection as a result of a fatwa issued by the Iranian Government.

Although that has now been lifted, extremist groups there still say they want to kill him.

British Airways lifted its ban on Mr Rushdie flying on its planes in 1998 and the domestic Canadian airline has said it will let Mr Rushdie travel on its planes

So he is still able to reach Canada and travel within it.

Mr Rushdie has not commented on the Air Canada ban, which coincides with a book tour.

But he said recently he hoped he would not need to carry on being as cautious about security as he had been in the past.

See also:

14 Apr 00 | South Asia
Rushdie delight at India visit
13 Feb 00 | Middle East
Rushdie death sentence reaffirmed
29 Dec 99 | Media reports
Full text: Kidneys for Rushdie's head
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