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Pakistanis Protest Against Knighthood for Salman Rushdie

Demonstrators have rallied in Pakistani cities to protest Britain's decision granting knighthood to controversial author Salman Rushdie.

More than 100 people gathered Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore, where they chanted "Death to Rushdie" and burned the British flag. In Karachi, protesters burned an effigy of the Indian-born author.

Also today, Pakistan's government summoned the British ambassador to formally complain about the honor bestowed on Rushdie.

On Monday, Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution calling the award an insult to Islam. The religious affairs minister Ejaz-ul-Haq also said the honor could be used to justify suicide bombings. He has since said he meant only that the award could spark extremism. But Britain's government expressed deep concern about the remarks.

Rushdie was awarded knighthood for services to literature in a list published Saturday as part of Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration.

One of Rushdie's novels, The Satanic Verses, angered many Muslims who believed the book was blasphemous.

The British High Commission in Pakistan has defended the decision to knight Rushdie, calling the honor "richly deserved."

Rushdie went into hiding in 1989 after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his book insulted Islam.

Under an agreement with Britain in 1998, Iran disavowed the death sentence, but hard-line clerics still called on Muslims to kill Rushdie, saying the fatwa could not be revoked.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.