• Sunday, June 23, 2024

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Rushdie urges Italy Prime Minister to ‘grow up’ over criticism

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano was fined by an Italian court last year for defaming Giorgia Meloni after he criticised her stance on migrants

A file photo of Salman Rushdie (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

Writer Salman Rushdie has urged Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to be more tolerant of criticism, saying she should “be less childish and grow up”, according to media reports.

The Indian-born author was speaking to journalists at the Turin book fair, where he is due to appear alongside Italian journalist Roberto Saviano on Friday.

Saviano was given a 1,000-euro (£860) suspended fine by an Italian court last year for defaming Meloni after he criticised her stance on migrants.

“At my personal risk I have to say that politicians should grow a thicker skin because a politician today, as well as having great power, also has great authority,” Rushdie said when asked about the case.

“So it is normal that some of the people should speak about them directly, even badly, also using a bad word like the one Roberto used,” he said according to the ANSA news agency.

He added: “I would give this lady a piece of advice, to be less childish and to grow up.”

Saviano had called Meloni a “bastard” on national television in December 2020, when the far-right leader was still in opposition.

Best known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, he lives under police protection due to threats from organised crime.

Rushdie has also faced death threats since his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” was declared blasphemous by Iran’s supreme leader, making him a global symbol of free speech.

After going unscathed for years, in 2022 he was stabbed on stage at an arts gathering in rural New York state, ultimately losing his right eye.

He is in Turin to promote his new memoir, “Knife” that recounts the near-fatal stabbing.

Meloni, leader of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, is also currently suing a historian who called her a “neo-Nazi at heart”. (AFP)

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