Salman Rushdie, One of the Many Victims of The Satanic Verses: Here’s the Full List
Salman Rushdie’s stabbing, 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him over his book The Satanic Verses, is in some ways the culmination or perhaps the ultimate goal of a series of assassination attempts that have taken place in connection with the infamous book over the past three decades. As Rushdie went underground for nine years, his book sparked widespread protests and attacks on bookstores, assassination attempts on translators, publishers and many others connected with the book.
Thirty years ago, in 1993, Norwegian book publisher William Nygaard was shot dead outside his home in a quiet suburb of Oslo on October 11. He was shot three times just outside his house. “It was early in the morning and he had just returned home from a book when he discovered that the front tire of his car had been punctured and the security alarm had also gone off. He was waiting for a taxi near his car after I turned off the alarm when the first bullet hit… And all of a sudden I felt a huge electric shock. After a second or something like that, the second electric shock. That was the second hit …And then I really screamed all of a sudden as much as I could, like some sort of reflex probably,” he recalls.
Just like Rushdie, he too survived the attack, but what was worse was that for more than 2 decades no one was charged for the crime and the Norwegian police refused to link the attempted attack. book murder.
On July 3, 1991, 61-year-old Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of “Satanic Verses”, was stabbed to death in his apartment in Milan, Italy. He was brutally beaten and attacked with a knife. While Milan police offered no likely theory about the incident or the attacker, Capriolo survived to tell police his attacker had ties to the Iranian embassy.
Just days after the Capriolo attack, a Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses was found dead in the hallway outside his office at the University of Tsukuba in Tokyo. Hitoshi Igarashi, 44, an assistant professor of comparative culture who reportedly studied in Iran in the 1970s, was stabbed multiple times and left for dead in the hallway outside his office at Tsukuba University. His body was found by the janitor, Mr. Igarashi’s body near an elevator on the seventh floor of the building with slash wounds to his neck, face and hands. Although the police did not provide any leads on the matter, news organizations reported that the novel’s publisher had received death threats from Islamist militants and that Mr. Igarashi had for some time received bodyguards.
Aziz Nesin was a Turkish writer who, in May 1993, published excerpts from The Satanic Verses in a left-wing newspaper called Aydinlik. He was a special guest at the conference of Alevi intellectuals (a sect within Twelver Shi’a Islam) at Hotel Madimak (Otel Madımak) on July 2, 1993 where the deadly Sivas massacre took place. Learning of his participation, the Islamic radicals, after Friday prayers, broke through the police barricades, entered the hotel and set it on fire, forming a human shield so that no one could escape. Nesin miraculously escaped alive using a ladder while 35 of his fellow Alevi poets and intellectuals were burned to death. He died two years later of a heart attack.
Salman Rushdie was not the first victim and will not be the last. The recent ‘sar tan se juda’ shouting and killing that took place after Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet Mohammad is dangerous on a whole new level. These murders are no longer high-profile targets but ordinary citizens who have shown their support for the BJP spokesperson through a tweet or a posting photo change. The enemy is no longer a man with a stranger with an AK 47 but your next door neighbor, a longtime friend or your familiar driver.
Professor Anand Ranganathan, consultant editor and columnist for Swarajya, often reminds us in TV debates to “trap the fundamentalists but spare the fundamentals”. The fundamental principles of Islam say that death is a penalty for questioning, criticizing or even abandoning the holy words of the Quran. 1400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad, displeased with the poet Ka’b al-Ashraf for mocking him in one of his poems, sent his followers to kill Ka’b in his home. The texts are found in the Hadith, Sahih al-Bukhari 4037 speaks of the horrific murder of Ka’b’s adoptive brother, Muhammad bin Maslama:
“When Ka’b comes, I will touch his hair and smell it, and when you see that I have grabbed his head, strip him. I will let you smell his head. Ka’b al-Ashraf descended towards them and wrapped himself in his clothes and diffused perfume,” Mohammed bin Maslama said. “I have never smelled a better smell than this. Ka’b replied “I have the best Arab women who know how to use the high class of perfume.” Muhammad bin Maslama asked Ka’b “Will you allow me to feel your head?” Ka’b said “Yes”. Muhammad felt it and made his companions feel it as well. Then he asked Ka’b again, “Do you want to let me (smell your head)?” Ka’b said “Yes”. When Muhammad seized him firmly, he said (to his companions): “Attack him!” So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him.
For the helpless world these are new battles, for them it is an old war. It is only the form that changes. In fact, in all major Islamic countries, the words of the Koran are followed to the letter and those who criticize or leave the fold are constantly imprisoned, killed or silenced. Nevertheless, the assault on Saman Rushdie is a wake-up call and the message is abundantly clear “you can be in the most powerful country in the world, you could have escaped punishment for decades, but in the end, we let’s never forget and we will catch you”.