ON MONDAY Salman Rushdie tried to make peace with those who would have him dead. It was outrageous to begin with that the Ayatollah Khomeini should have declared a holy war on Rushdie's creative imagination. The least the nations of the world can now do is insist that Iran lift the death sentence.
Rushdie, in the presence of an Egyptian secretary of state and other moderate Muslims, signed a statement embracing the Muslim faith and disavowing sections of his novel "The Satanic Verses" for which the ayatollah two years ago called on Muslims worldwide to take Rushdie's life. He also agreed to forgo a paperback edition of the book.
Cloaked in British security, virtually paralyzed by the threat of death, the writer has lived underground during those two harrowing years. He has watched from the shadows as book publishers and politicians equivocated over the sacrifice he made for free expression. The time for equivocation has ended.