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Last Updated: Friday, 29 June 2007, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Booker judges back Rushdie honour
Salman Rushdie
Rushdie received his knighthood earlier this month
Protests about author Salman Rushdie's knighthood have been condemned by the Man Booker International Prize judges as they honoured this year's winner.

They said the "appalling reaction" from religious extremists threatened "the principle of freedom of expression as a basic tenet of justice".

The decision to honour the author of The Satanic Verses set off protests in some parts of the Muslim world.

This year's International Booker winner is Nigerian author Chinua Achebe.

The writer was not able to attend Thursday's presentation ceremony in Oxford, where the prize was accepted on his behalf by his son Chidi.

'Outrageous threats'

US author Dr Elaine Showalter, chair of the judging panel, used the ceremony to "condemn acts of destruction of Salman Rushdie's work, the denigration of his character and status as one of world literature's great writers".

Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe was not present at Thursday's award ceremony
The judging panel, she said, "calls upon those responsible for these despicable actions and outrageous threats to his life to renounce all such intentions in the name of common humanity and the sanctity of human life."

Rushdie was one of 15 writers shortlisted for the prize, awarded every two years to a living author working in the English language for their body of work.

Achebe, 76, is best known for his 1958 debut novel Things Fall Apart, which has sold more than 10 million copies around the world and has been translated into 50 languages.

Albanian novelist and dissident Ismail Kadare received the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005.

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