Rushdie remembers Thatcher's 'great life'

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Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 3:04 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Salman Rushdie (SAHL'-mahn ROOSH'-dee) is remembering Margaret Thatcher with the same complicated feelings he had for while she was alive. That means disagreeing with her politics but being grateful for her support when he was forced into hiding in 1989 after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini (ah-yah-TOH'-lah hoh-MAY'-nee) called for his death.

Rushdie was interviewed Monday morning during a promotional tour for the film adaptation of his prize-winning novel "Midnight's Children." He said Thatcher had "a great life" and that he was saddened by her death.

Politically, he was far to the left of Thatcher and included a character named "Mrs. Torture" in "The Satanic Verses." But when that novel led to accusations of anti-Muslim blasphemy and to the Ayatollah's decree, Thatcher's government gave Rushdie round-the-clock protection.

Rushdie said he met Thatcher just once, at a Scotland Yard gathering.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Salman Rushdie is remembering Margaret Thatcher with the same complicated feelings he had for while she was alive: disagreement with her politics, but gratitude for her support when he was forced into hiding in 1989 after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini called for his death.

"She had a great life, and offered protection for me when I needed it," said Rushdie, interviewed Monday morning during a promotional tour for the film adaptation of his Booker Prize-winning novel "Midnight's Children."

Politically, he was far to the left of Thatcher and mocked her before 1989, naming one character "Margaret Torture" in his novel "The Satanic Verses" and at times using unprintable language when referring to her. But when "The Satanic Verses" led to accusations of anti-Muslim blasphemy and to the Ayatollah's decree, Thatcher's government gave Rushdie round-the-clock supervision.

Rushdie, 65, said he met Thatcher just once, at an annual Scotland Yard gathering held for those being protected.

"She was very considerate, and, surprisingly, touchy-feely," Rushdie said. "She would tap you on the arm and say, 'Everything OK?' I hadn't expected that touch of tenderness."

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