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Page last updated at 08:20 GMT, Saturday, 15 September 2012 09:20 UK

Rushdie: Video protests 'an ugly reaction'

The author Sir Salman Rushdie has said that the protests in Arab capitals against a film which some Muslims say insults Islam is "an ugly reaction that needs to be named as such".

Sir Salman spent more than a decade in hiding under armed protection following a Fatwa in 1989 over his novel The Satanic Verses.

He told Today presenter James Naughtie that the film at the centre of the protests was an "idiotic video... A piece of garbage".

And he added "respect is a code for fear" which is "something we need to overcome".

There is, he explained "no trick to defend stuff you agree with. It's when you have to defend something that you despise and loathe that you realise you believe in freedom of speech.

"We need to insist that the culture of this country is one of open discourse."

At least seven people have died in demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa over the US-produced film.

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