Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 14:23 UK

Knighthood goes to author Rushdie

Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman was forced into hiding after writing The Satanic Verses

Author Salman Rushdie has been knighted by the Queen in London for his services to literature.

Muslims around the world condemned the award when it was announced last year in the Monarch's Birthday Honours list. Sir Salman, 61, who has written a number of acclaimed books, went into hiding in 1989 after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

The novel sparked widespread protests by Muslims and Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him.

'Very happy'

Khomeini called the book a blasphemy against Islam and sentenced Sir Salman to death.

Since returning to public life in 1998 when the Iranian government lifted their support for the fatwa, Sir Salman has not shied away from controversy.

Speaking after he was presented with the award he said: "I'm very proud, very happy."

When asked whether he thought accepting the honour had undermined his credibility he said: "I just think it's a great moment for anyone to have 35-odd years of work recognised in this way."

'I was very surprised'

Sir Salman explained he chose not to have footage of himself accepting the award form the Queen for no other reason other than it was a "private moment".

He also explained how he had no regrets writing the controversial The Satanic Verses, despite the problems that occurred.

However, he added he was "more interested" in his recent work.

Actor Sir Ian McKellen also attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace to receive the companion of honour medal for services to drama and equality.

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