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Stabbings, gunshots, and arson: When the translators and publishers of Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ faced vicious attacks by Islamists

On Friday (August 12), Salman Rushdie was stabbed during an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses,’ released in September 1988, sparked outrage across the world among Muslims. Following the publication of his book, which Muslims deemed to be blasphemous, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa on February 14, 1989, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. Since then, not only has Salman Rushdie been living under a perpetual threat but the translators and publishers of his book have also been the targets of Islamists across the world.

Murder of the Japanese translator

In July 1991, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was brutally murdered at a university northeast of Tokyo. The 44-year-old assistant professor of comparative culture was stabbed many times and left in the corridor outside his office at Tsukuba University, according to police. Igarashi, a brilliant professor, had stated in interviews that researchers should not be concerned about what would happen to them as a result of their work. His death is still unsolved and remains a mystery.

Attack on the Italian translator

Ettore Capriolo translated ‘The Satanic Verses’ in Italian. In June 1991, he was attacked by a person who pretended to be looking for a translation of an Islamic pamphlet. Upon assaulting the 61-year-old, he introduced himself as an Iranian and fled. Capriolo was hurt in the neck, hands, and chest. According to the New York Times, the attacker told Capriolo he had a ‘connection’ to the Iranian consulate in Italy. Days later, Italian law enforcement declared that Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses had no link to the assault.

Norwegian Publisher of ‘The Satanic Verses’ survived the attack

Two months after the Iranian fatwa, the Norwegian translation of The Satanic Verses was published. The Norwegian publisher William Nygaard got direct threats almost instantly and was granted armed security for a while. He was shot three times on October 11, 1993, in front of his residence in Dagaliveien, Oslo. He gradually healed after being admitted to Sunnaas Hospital. The attackers were never apprehended.

A hotel was torched to kill the Turkish translator of this book

The attempt to kill the Turkish translator of The Satanic Verses written by Salman Rushdie is an example of a fanatic attack on writers. Aziz Nesin translated this book into the Turkish language. On Friday, 2nd July 1993, Aziz Nesin, aged 78, was attending a symposium in the conservative eastern city of Sivas with other academics for commemorating the death of a 16th-century Ottoman poet who spoke about oppression. However, after one of his anti-Islamic assembly remarks was leaked, Turkey’s senior author became the target of an unparalleled barrage of hate.

Hundreds of Islamists came out of mosques and gathered in the city’s central plaza, where they stoned police barriers and governmental structures. They flashed arms and screamed Islamic slogans as their numbers grew throughout the day. An enraged Muslim mob set fire to a hotel in eastern Turkey where Nesin had sought shelter.

Crowds around the hotel also made it difficult for the fire services to contain the incident. Aziz Nesin was forced to flee using a fire department ladder as the rescue crews arrived. Nesin was treated for minor injuries and transported out of the state after escaping from the hotel in a police van. However, at least 35 individuals were killed and 60 were injured, and four of them were critical.

Islamists also staged violent protests in Mumbai where Salman Rushdie was born

Salman Rushdie was born in Mumbai. Islamists in the city had also reacted angrily to the allegedly blasphemous book by the author.

Following Khomeini’s call for the killing of Rushdie on 14th February 1989, Islamists in India called for a ‘bandh‘ on February 24, 1989, in the city of Mumbai. During heated demonstrations, they also opened fire on the police. It was then that the cops resorted to retaliatory firing and neutralized 12 Islamists in this process.

Salman Rushdie stabbed in New York

On Friday (August 12), Salman Rushdie was stabbed during an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. The man involved in the attack was identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar. A resident of Fairview in New Jersey, Hadi jumped onto the stage and attacked the novelist with a knife.

Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie told that he is still in a critical state. He added that Rushdie was being put on ventilator support and that he could not speak. “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Wylie said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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