South Africa lifts ban on Satanic Verses

South Africa has lifted a ban on The Satanic Verses, which when published over a decade ago resulted in a life-threatening decree against its author Salman Rushdie.

The decision was taken under liberal new laws that govern the release of films and publications in a country where the old apartheid censorship board kept a vigilant eye on printed material.

Rusdie's book caused wide controversy in the Arab world and sent the author into hiding when then Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini deemed his work blasphemous and proclaimed his death decree.

At the time in 1988 it was also deemed blasphemous in South Africa and banned under the film and publications act of 1974.

The lifting of the ban follows a request from the library in Cape Town, according to officials from the Film and Publications Board.

"Until the library asked, no one had applied for the lifting of the ban on The Satanic Verses," said the board's legal adviser, Iyavar Chetty.