Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel “The Satanic Verses” was put on display at the opening of Jerusalem’s International Book Fair on Sunday by Israeli distributors undaunted by Muslim fury over the book.
Among the 42 countries participating were publishers from the Soviet Union and China, represented for the first time at a Jerusalem book fair. Neither country has diplomatic relations with Israel.
Two Israeli distributors displayed “The Satanic Verses” prominently at their booths, and the crowds fingered the year’s most explosive book like a rare treasure.
“For us it’s just another book. We’re here to do business,” said Helmut Matejka, a representative for one of the Israeli distributors.
Iran’s leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered Muslims to kill Rushdie last month, saying his book was blasphemous.
Racheli Edelman, president of the Israel Book Publishers’ Assn., said traders are undaunted.
“The experience of our people and other nations during this century teaches us that we cannot keep silent,” he said.
Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek said: “The book is still the expression of the spirit of mankind. Sometimes it is the expression of the satanic spirit of mankind.”