Salman Rushdie at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2023. In 2024 at the Turin Book Fair he crticised politicians saying they should have a thicker skin.

Salman Rushie says politicians should grow thicker skin

Culture News

At the Turin Book Fair, Salman Rushdie criticised politicians, in particular Giorgia Meloni over her slander case against Roberto Saviano. Rushdie said, “politicians should grow a thicker skin”, also saying Meloni is childish.

At the Turin Book Fair on Thursday, Anglo-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie said Premier Giorgia Meloni should be “less childish” over her slander case against anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano. The Italian author called her a “bastard” after the death of a migrant baby amid her fiery anti-migrant rescue rhetoric when in opposition in 2020.

Rushdie, author of Satanic verses – which spurred an Iranian fatwa against him -and Midnight’s Children is one of the stars of the Turin Book Fair. His story Knife, relates his harrowing near-fatal real-life New York attack.

Rushdie spoke at the event, “I heard about the dispute between Ms Meloni and Roberto Saviano.

“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.

“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.

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

Meloni still pursuing Saviano

Saviano received a “symbolic” €1,000 fine in October for calling Meloni and her ally, then hardline anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini, “bastards” on Italian TV after a little girl died in a failed sea rescue in the Mediterranean. Meloni is still pursuing the case.

The writer also faces a separate trial for having called Salvini the “minister of the underworld” on another occasion.

Saviano has been in police protection since the publication of Gomorra in 2006 lifted the lid on the Casalesi clan of Campania’s Camorra mafia. The book was turned into a 2008 film that won second prize at Cannes. It was also the inspiration for a successful Sky TV series.

The Camorra is Italy’s third-biggest criminal organisation behind Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta and Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.

Press freedom groups have criticized the trial and the fact that defamation is a criminal offence in Italy.

When he called the two politicians “bastards”, Saviano referred to their previous statements criticising NGO rescue ships as “sea taxis” and “cruise ships”.

Saviano, when fined, said “amid the absurdity of being taken to trial by the premier for having criticised her, there is no greater honour for a writer than to see their words scare such a mendacious power.

“When it is asked, one day, how it was possible to let all these people die at sea, my name will not be among the accomplices”.

The judge recognised extenuating circumstances including “acting for reasons of particular moral value”. The judge also ruled that the penalty would be suspended, and Saviano’s record left clean.

Saviano appealed to get a full acquittal, spurring Meloni’s countersuit.

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