Author Salman Rushdie, in hiding since a 1989 Iranian death threat, made a rare appearance at a literary conference Tuesday and vowed to increase his profile around the world to defy the Iranian government.
"I've discovered there is no substitute for standing up in front of people to remind them there is actually a human being in here and that this is not some kind of theoretical issue," the Indian-born Rushdie said in a news conference at the University of Colorado.He is attending CU's Novel of the Americas Symposium, which features prominent writers, literary critics and scholars from around the world.
Amid extremely tight security, Rushdie made one of his few public appearances in the United States since 1989, when the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Rushdie's book, "The Satanic Verses," blasphemous and offered a reward for the author's death. The novel associates the prophet Mohammed with pros-ti-tutes.
The bounty has been described by the Iranian government at different times as $1 million and $2 million.
A British citizen, Rushdie has been under police protection in England since the threat.
He said he no longer intends to be, in effect, an Iranian hostage.
"Since then, I'm doing everything I can to take back everything of ordinary life that I can," he said.
How far he's gotten could be seen Tuesday in the enormous federal and local security effort to protect him on campus.
Reporters at the press conference were searched. They were barred from asking questions regarding where he's been, where he's going and how he's traveling. Photographers were prohibited from photographing Rushdie's bodyguards and spectators.
"You are in as much a prison as this man is now in - and that speaks volumes," a Rushdie aide told the journalists.