Prince Charles turned his back on Sir Salman Rushdie during his fatwa over publication of The Satanic Verses because he thought the book was offensive to Muslims, it has been claimed.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the author Martin Amis claims that the Prince’s views caused a row at a dinner party after Rushdie was issued with the death sentence by Islamic clerics in 1989. Amis claims that Charles told him that he would not offer support “if someone insults someone else’s deepest convictions”.
Amis attempted to remonstrate with him, but the Prince offered little beyond insisting he would “take it on board”. Rushdie went into hiding for a decade after Iran's late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for the author's assassination.
The Iranian government distanced itself from the fatwa a decade later, declaring that it would not support the edict, but could not rescind it. The Vanity Fair article features Rushdie’s friends and literary colleagues and tells the inside story of the controversy. “I had an argument with Prince Charles at a small dinner party,” Mr Amis said.
“And I said that a novel doesn’t set out to insult anyone: ‘It sets out to give pleasure to its readers,’ I told him. A novel is an essentially playful undertaking, and this is an exceedingly playful novel.
“The Prince took it on board, but I’d suppose the next night at a different party he would have said the same thing.”