He lives under constant police protection, moving from one secret address to another. His isolation is only rarely broken by much more than telephone calls and furtive visits by family and friends. Salman Rushdie feels he had no choice but to hide since the day in February 1989 when Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned him to death for his novel The Satanic Verses. The Indian- born writer maintains that he never intended to offend followers of the Muslim faith; last week he went a step further toward atonement and perhaps an end to his exile by announcing that he is embracing Islam and will not support an English-language paperback printing or further translations of the book.
Rushdie's reaffirmation of his faith came after he held a secret meeting with Islamic scholars. But there was no sign of mercy from Iran's current spiritual leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. He responded to Rushdie's semi- apology by saying the death sentence issued by the late Ayatullah Khomeini is irreversible.