Salman Rushdie said on "Today" that the filmmakers were trying to get a reaction, not produce art
The makers of "Innocence of Muslims," the shoddily produced movie that has sparked violence across the Middle East, shouldn't look to Salman Rushdie for sympathy.
Though the Booker Prize winning author found himself the target of death threats by radical Muslims after the publication of "The Satanic Verses" 23 years ago, he believes that the filmmakers behind the movie are "disgusting."
Appearing on NBC's "Today" Monday morning, Rushdie said that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon who served time for manufacturing methamphetamine and reportedly directed the anti-Muslim movie, differed from him in more than cultural pedigree.
"He did it on purpose," Rushdie said. "I mean, he set out to create a response, and he got it in spades."
Rushdie has published a new memoir, "Joseph Anton," about being forced into hiding in the wake of a fatwa issued by the leaders of Iran. A lengthy excerpt appeared in last week's New Yorker.
"Innocence of Muslims" depicts Muhammad as a false prophet, a homosexual and a sexual deviant. It has incited street protests in countries including Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
In the process, "Innocence of Muslims" has not only endangered Nakoula, but has further threatened Rushdie. An Iranian religious foundation raised a reward for killing Rushdie by $500,000 to more than $3 million in response to the movie.
Although Rushdie's belief in free speech remains unshaken, he made it clear that he found it hard to sympathize with "Innocence of Muslims."
"One of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting," Rushdie said.
"He's done something malicious, and that's a very different thing from writing a serious novel, you know," Rushdie added. "He's clearly set out to provoke, and he's obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for."
Watch the interview: