Rushdie says Meloni shd be ‘less childish’ on Saviano

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

Midnight’s Children and Iranian fatwa spurring Satanic Verses author Rushdie, one of the stars of the fair with his harrowing near-fatal real-life New York attack story Knife, said “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”.

Saviano was fined a “symbolic” 1,000 euros 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, and the premier 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 and was 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 criticizing NGO rescue ships as “sea taxis” and “cruise ships”.

When he was fined, Saviano said “amid the absurdity of being taken to trial by the premier for having criticized 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” and ruled that the penalty would be suspended and Saviano’s record left clean.

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