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British novelist Salman Rushdie defended himself to the Iranian people by radio Friday over Iran's death order against him for his book "The Satanic Verses."

Rushdie has been in hiding under police guard for 22 months since Iran's late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said he must die for blaspheming Islam in the novel.

The Persian-language service of the BBC transmitted an interview with Rushdie, in which he said his book "is about how a man is destroyed by losing God."

Rushdie added: "That seems to me to be a perfectly moral fable . . ."

In a guest editorial Friday in the Times of London and the New York Times, Rushie said he regretted "the renewed threats from Tehran and cannot help wondering why the British government seems no longer to feel any need to respond to such threats."

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