Salman Rushdie, two attempted murders, enlightened bookstores and a dead translator

The attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie (Mumbai, 1947) at the Chautauqua Institution in New York should be just another of the attacks the author has suffered since the publication of his fourth novel in 1988, satanic verseAnd a controversy erupted that prompted Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s spiritual leader and leader of their revolution, to issue a fatwa against the author’s life the following year.

A fatwa was announced on February 14, 1989, the day Rushdie was at the funeral of his friend Bruce Chatwin, leading to large protests calling for the death of the Indian storyteller – who had lived in the United States since the turn of the millennium. are. – and which, in addition to burning bookstores, ended in a failed attack in which the bomber exploded as the bomber prepared him and blew up two floors of a hotel in London and killed Hitoshi Igarashi, the translator of the novel in Japanese Happened. , was assassinated in 1991, while the Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was seriously injured the same year. Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was gunned down in 1993, the year Rushdie, still in hiding, made a surprise appearance at a U2 concert at Wembley invited by Bono.

Ayatollah Khomeini


What is the reason that Khomeini announced the book of blasphemy? Rushdie’s previous books had already sparked controversy, as had his leftist statements, including attacking the United States for its actions in Nicaragua. midnight children (1981), one of his greatest achievements, which chronicles the transition from colonial India to independence and the subsequent partition of Bengal – now Pakistan and Bangladesh, has already angered Indira Gandhi and the following was, Shame (1983), a kind of novel in code on Pakistani political power at the time. but they were satanic verse which changed his life. In the novel, he deals with magical realism – surviving a plane explosion – including – the lives of two Indian immigrants to the UK, themselves settled in that country while studying history at King’s College of Cambridge.

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The title of the novel, which also deals with the life of the Prophet Muhammad, aroused anger: it refers to a legend about Muhammad according to which certain verses of the Koran were inspired not by Allah but by Satan, certain verses which he told three from Mecca. Allowed to pray to pagan gods and goddesses, which was a violation of monotheism. For the Muslim world, this story was a heretical concoction, and Rushdie directly attacked Koraninsult to freedom of expression.

British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, pictured at Casa Asia headquarters in Barcelona

British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, pictured at Casa Asia headquarters in Barcelona


The result was that in 1988 -7,000 Muslims started performing in Bolton, UK, the book was banned in several countries: Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia , Thailand. .. The last to ban it was Venezuela in 1989 – and attacks on bookstores and burnings of books have multiplied.

In Bradford, UK, a public copy-burning event took place and several bookshops across the country were attacked with firebombs. Other deaths began quickly: Six protesters were killed during a 1989 demonstration at the American Cultural Center in Islamabad, Pakistan. This happened just two days before Khomeini’s fatwa, which stated: “We belong to Allah and to Allah we must return. I declare to all the brave Muslims of the world that the author satanic verseA text written, edited and published against Islam, the Prophet of Islam and the Koran, is liable to the death penalty if the publishers know its contents”.

Writer Salman Rushdie falls to the ground shortly after being stabbed

Writer Salman Rushdie falls to the ground shortly after being stabbed

AFP/Associated Press

The Iranian government offered three million dollars for his head, forcing the UK to shield him from the police and end diplomatic relations with Iran, which would only be restored with Mohammad Khatami when his government would have assured him. Given that they would no longer seek the death of the Indian writer. This is despite the fact that after the fatwa, then Iranian President Ali Khamenei, who is now the country’s spiritual leader, suggested he might forgive Rushdie if he backed down.

Rushdie released a statement acknowledging that “Muslims in many parts of the world are genuinely upset by the publication of my novel. I deeply regret that my publication disturbed the true followers of Islam. We belong to many religions. In the world we live in, this experience has served to remind us that we all need to be aware of the sensitivities of others.”

The apologies had no effect. And after the government of Khatami in 2006, the official Iranian agency indicated that the fatwa was still in force, and Rusdi himself explained that every February 14 he receives “a kind of Valentine’s Day card” from Iran, which he remembers. given.

In the first few months that followed, Rushdie and his then-wife, Marianne Wiggins, had to move house 56 times, once every three days. The duet was short-lived, and Rushdie himself declared the Islamic faith in the late 1990s, asking his publisher not to publish the book in paperback or to allow its translation. This proved futile, and the now horribly hurt author later admitted that it was “wrong to try to appease the fundamentalists by representing a tyrannical and irrational project which at the time was aimed at stabilizing a certain vision of Islamic culture and to enable Muslims to silence progressive voices in the world. and pointed out that, now that the 9/11 attacks have taken place, “many people can retrospectively believe that the fatwa was the prelude and is the central event”.