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Wednesday, November 26, 1997 Published at 22:21 GMT

World: South Asia

Sri Lanka bans BBC "Midnight's Children" film
image: [ Salman Rushdie, still in hiding after the fatwa ]
Salman Rushdie, still in hiding after the fatwa

The BBC has announced that the Sri Lankan Government has withdrawn permission for it to film an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children".

A BBC statement said a pre-production team which was already in Sri Lanka would be returning to London.

The Sri Lankan authorities have given no reason for their decision.

Correspondents say that "Midnight's Children" is not itself controversial in Sri Lanka -- it deals with events following the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.

But its author Salman Rushdie attracted the anger of many Muslims with another book, The Satanic Verses, which prompted Iran to issue a decree ordering his death.

India had previously declined permission for filming, because of worries that it could inflame relations with Pakistan.

The book traces the lives of a group of children born on the first day of independence from Britain.

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