Paris: Author Salman Rushdie today issued a strong call to "defend the art of satire" after gunmen attacked the Paris office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people. (Track LIVE updates on Charlie Hebdo Attack)
In a much-retweeted post on Twitter, Mr Rushdie stated, "Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. (Paris Attackers Shouted 'We Have Avenged the Prophet': Police)
"I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion.' Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect." (France Puts Paris on Highest Alert Status After Shooting)
In 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa or religious edict calling for Mr Rushdie's murder over his book 'Satanic Verses,' which he said was blasphemous. Mr Rushdie had to spend several years in hiding and under police protection. (After Charlie Hebdo Attack, Masked Gunmen Escape: 10 Facts)
The book was also banned in several countries, including India.