WORLD : Two Quit Life Posts on Nobel Panel Over Lack of Support for Rushdie

From Times wire services

Two members of Sweden’s prestigious Academy of Letters, guardian of the Nobel Literature Prize, resigned their life memberships today over the committee’s refusal to fully support author Salman Rushdie.

Novelists Kerstin Ekman and Lars Gyllensten said they could no longer be members of a body which had failed to condemn Iran’s death threats against the Indian-born British author of “The Satanic Verses.” Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini last month called on Muslims to kill Rushdie for blasphemy against Islam.

The announcement of the novelists’ resignations came as a shock to the Academy, whose members are elected for life.

“It would have been better if they had been loyal to the Academy and let us know first,” said Sture Allen, the Academy’s permanent secretary.