Controversial author Salman Rushdie has expressed his support for plans to build a mosque close to Ground Zero in New York, 21 years after an Islamic leader issued a fatwa calling for his death.
Rushdie sparked outrage with the 1988 release of his book The Satanic Verses, which the then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, insisted was an insult to Islam.
Khomeini responded by ordering Muslims to kill the Midnight's Children writer the following year (89), prompting Rushdie to seek police protection and go into hiding for a decade when Iranian government officials ruled they would neither "support nor hinder assassination operations" on him.
The 63 year old has since returned to the spotlight and now he has waded into the dispute over the proposals for a new Islamic community centre in the heart of downtown Manhattan, where the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place in 2001.
The plans have sparked protests from the families of those killed in the Twin Towers when Muslim extremists flew two planes into the high-rise buildings, and hundreds marched on the site of Ground Zero on the tragedy's ninth anniversary on Saturday (11Sep10).
But Rushdie is adamant nothing should stand in the way of the religious centre being built - because there was an Islamic prayer room in the Twin Towers too.
He says, "It's just a stupid argument. Of course they should be able to build a mosque there."
Property tycoon Donald Trump has offered to end the controversy surrounding the mosque plans by buying the site himself.