AS Neal Ascherson's article illustrates, one of the depressing aspects of discussion of the Rushdie fatwa is the way in which the subject has been elevated to a status worthy of intellectual debate. As Mr Ascherson says: "There is no Rushdie question." There is nothing complex about the issue - the fact is that some Islamic fundamentalists decided that Rushdie should be killed because he wrote something that offended them. That makes them savages, just as Christians would be (cf Bosnia) who sought to murder a Muslim who had similarly displeased them.

D L Allen

Stroud, Gloucestershire

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