As the Middle East reels and Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo up their security, one man who knows more than most about the absurd over-reaction of vast swathes of the Arab world has offered some advice. Speaking to Sky News, Sir Salmon Rushdie is not backing down: ‘To tell you the truth, I’m a little tired of religion demanding special privileges. I have all sorts of people attacking me, it doesn’t inspire me to go out and commit an act of violence.’

Rushdie points out that any other idea can be discussed, satirised or taken seriously. ‘It’s very important in England, and Europe and America, where we are fortunate enough to have our say without fear of arrest or worse, we need to stand by that. That’s what you do in a free society.’

Asked whether he feels safe after the bounty for his head was increased, Rushdie said: ‘this is one guy trying to grab some news space, it certainly does not make any difference to me.’ Pushed on whether he ever feels worried, he dryly replied: ‘when I’m talking to journalists.’

Tags: Freedom of speech, Islam, Islamism, Religion, salman rushdie