Salman Rushdie identifies as British Indian and was raised Muslim.
He is a citizen of the UK with Indian ancestry.
Remember, the British empire ruled over India until 1947!
Salman Rushdie is a father and husband.
Salman Rushdie is a famous Author. He has written over 15 novels, and numerous essays.
Rushdie won The Man Booker Prize in 1981 for his novel Midnight’s Children.
The Booker Prize is a prestigious award given in England, like the American Pulitzer or National Book Award.
Magical Realism: a genre where magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in otherwise realistic or “normal” settings.
His work often deals with the confusion and misunderstandings between 2 cultures, especially the east vs. the west.
Rushdie’s love of English is apparent in his wordplay and his fantastic, imaginative use of language.
Unfortunately, one of the things he is most well known for is the FATWA placed on him in 1989.
What is a FATWA?
According to Princeton University, a fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law that is given by a recognized authority.
Thousands of fatwas have been issued to help guide followers of Islam on religious or spiritual matters.
Fatwas must be issued by a scholar of Islamic Law. The person that issues the fatwa is called a Mufti.
Hold on….what does that have to do with Salman Rushdie?
The Satanic Verses was a novel published by Rushdie in 1988.
The book is controversial for its depiction of Muhammad and some verses in the Koran.
More about The Satanic Verses
The novel was BANNED in India 9 days after it was published.
The book was BURNED at organized demonstrations in India, UK, and Muslim countries.
The book was so controversial and offensive to Muslims that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for his execution in a Fatwa.
What did that mean?
Writer Christopher Hitchens, a friend of Rushdie’s explains: “two decades ago the theocratic head of a foreign state offered a large sum of money, in his own name, in public, to suborn the murder of a writer of fiction who was not himself an Iranian. In the event that some would-be assassin died in the attempt and failed to pick up the dough, an immediate passage to paradise was assured.”
Rushdie himself went into hiding for a decade, heavily protected by UK special forces.
The fatwa covered anyone who helped bring the novel to publication: his publisher was attacked, translators were murdered, bookstores carrying the book were firebombed.
Haroun & the Sea of Stories
Published in 1990, it was the first book published after the Fatwa.
Rushdie dedicated the book to his son.
The novel is about a famous storyteller who all of a sudden loses his ability to weave and tell tales.
The son of the storyteller makes a fantastic, adventurous journey to save his father and to save stories.
What about now?
The Fatwa is still in effect and can never be lifted since Khomeini died.
Rushdie now lives openly in the US and still publishes books.
He was made a Knight by the Queen of England in 2007.
Long Lasting Effects
Many believe that the Satanic Verses affair has damaged the idea of Freedom of Speech.
Publishers of any kind of written material (even PlayStation games!) will not release them if there is any chance of “offending” Muslims.
Other artists have been targeted or killed (including a Danish political cartoonist).
The Big Question
What is your right to Freedom of Speech worth to YOU?