The Salman Rusdie Affair: Part II

Almost 20 years ago, Salman Rushdie pub­lished his fourth nov­el, The Satan­ic Vers­es, nev­er real­iz­ing how this lit­er­ary event would change his life. The Aya­tol­lah Khome­i­ni, the spir­i­tu­al leader of Iran’s reli­gious and polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, saw in the book “blas­phe­mous” depic­tions of the prophet Muham­mad, and then hand­ed down a fat­wa call­ing for Rushdie’s death. For the next decade, Rushdie was dri­ven under­ground, mak­ing only infre­quent appear­ances in pub­lic. And it wasn’t until the late 90s that things sim­mered down, the death threats sub­sided, and the writer returned to liv­ing a semi-nor­mal life. Then came this past week …Buck­ing­ham Palace announced Queen Elizabeth’s plans to knight Rushdie, mak­ing him Sir Salman, and it all began again. Recall­ing the Dan­ish car­toon con­tro­ver­sy that swept the Mus­lim world in 2005, rank­ing polit­i­cal offi­cials, from Iran to Pak­istan, have revived the threats against the British-Indi­an nov­el­ist as well as Britain, tak­ing the Queen’s knight­ing as an inten­tion­al slight against Islam. The mere fact that Rushdie is a splen­did writer whose body of work goes well beyond The Satan­ic Vers­es nev­er quite fig­ures into the pic­ture, how­ev­er. (Try giv­ing Midnight’s Chil­dren a read to see what I mean.) You can get more on Part II of the Rushdie Affair here and here, and you can also watch Rushdie read­ing from The Satan­ic Vers­es below. 

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