Salman Rushdie: The man known for 'Satanic Verses' and numerous fatwas
New York, Aug 13: Author Salman Rushdie has been admitted to hospital after being stabbed in the neck on stage in New York. The incident took place at the Chautauqua Institution, when the Rushdie was due to deliver a lecture on how the United States offers asylum for artists in exile. The male attacker has reportedly been detained by police with no official motive ascribed to the assault.
However, it may very well be related to Rushdie's 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, which has kept Rushdie controversial in the public eye for decades. Rushdie, 75, has spent years living under a death threat for several years for writing the book.
The Fatwa and the death threats
A fatwa is basically a legal pronouncement by an Islamic legal scholar, known as a mufti. A mufti is capable of forming his opinion on any kind of legal issue that embodies the religion of Islam, and pronounce his judgments.
In 1988, The Satanic Verses was published, and proved to be a major success in some countries like the US, just as much as it provoked a controversial storm for many (not all) Muslims around the world. The book was soon banned in a number of countries including India. A year later, everything changed for the Bombay-native who was born to a Muslim family.
On February 14 1989, Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a Fatwa calling for Rushdie's death, over allegations of blasphemy. A bounty was also offered for his assassination.
Rushdie was forced into hiding for several years shuttering himself in a home fitted with bulletproof glass and security cameras, according to reports.
Though Iran's government distanced itself from this fatwa in 1999, but in 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation offered a $3.3 million (€3.2 million) reward for anyone who kills Rushdie.
Threats and boycotts continued against literary events that Rushdie attended, and his knighthood in 2007 had also sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan. The fatwa failed to stifle Rushdie's writing, however, and inspired his memoir Joseph Anton, named after his alias while in hiding and written in the third person.
In 2019, current Iranian ruler Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in a now-deleted tweet that the assassination order was "irrevocable."
Rushdie eventually moved back into public life and became a force promoting freedom of speech. He moved to the US in 2000 and was named a distinguished writer in residence at New York University in 2015.