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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Rushdie knighted in honours list
Sir Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman was able to return to public life in 1999
Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa, has been knighted by the Queen.

His book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head in 1989.

But since the Indian-born author returned to public life in 1999, he has not shied away from controversy.

A devout secularist, he backed Commons Leader Jack Straw over comments on Muslim women and veils and has warned against Islamic "totalitarianism".

The son of a successful businessman, Sir Salman was born into a Muslim family in Mumbai in 1947.

He was educated in England at Rugby School and studied history at Cambridge University.

Booker prize

Following an advertising career in London, he became a full-time writer.

I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour
Salman Rushdie

His first novel, Grimus, was published in 1975 but was generally ignored by the book-buying public and literary establishment.

But his second effort - the magic realist novel Midnight's Children - catapulted him to literary fame.

It won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was awarded the Booker of Bookers in 1993 after being judged the best novel to have won the prize during its 25-year history.

Sir Salman, who turns 60 on 19 June, is renowned as a purveyor of story as political statement.

Death sentence

He takes history and fictionalises it, with imaginative brilliance, and much of his work is set in his native India and Pakistan.

His fourth book - The Satanic Verses in 1988 - describes a cosmic battle between good and evil and combines fantasy, philosophy and farce.

It was immediately condemned by the Islamic world because of its perceived blasphemous depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

It was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities and in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's spiritual leader, issued a fatwa, ordering Sir Salman's execution.

In 1998, the Iranian government said it would no longer support the fatwa, but some groups have said it is irrevocable.

Padma Lakshmi and Sir Salman
Sir Salman and his actress wife Padma Lakshmi

Despite living as a virtual prisoner, with full police protection, Sir Salman continued to write and produced several novels and essays during his confinement.

His re-emergence has not been without controversy.

In backing Jack Straw over his comments on Muslim women wearing veils, Sir Salman said veils "suck" as they were a symbol of the "limitation of women".

He also weighed into the furore surrounding the Danish cartoons, which satirised the Prophet Muhammad, warning against Islamic "totalitarianism".

Of his knighthood for services to literature, Rushdie said: "I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way."


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