Who is Salman Rushdie? Why was Muslims hated for insulting Prophet Muhammad?

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By BBC News Tamil

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Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 17:18 [IST]

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie

Sir Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed in New York, had received death threats over his literary work for the past half century.

British novelist Salman Rushdie’s many books are popular in the literary world. His second novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ won the Booker Prize in 1981.

But his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, was more controversial. Its title may be called Satan’s Verses. It met with opposition that no book had met before. The Islamic world was in turmoil.

There were numerous death threats. After the publication of that book, he had to live in hiding. The British government was giving him protection.

In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s Supreme Leader, issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie.

Iran and Britain severed diplomatic ties over the issue. Writers around the world denounced the threat to freedom of expression posed by radical Islamist reaction.

Salman Rushdie was born in what was then Bombay, two months before India’s independence.

At the age of 14 he was sent to study in England. He then graduated from the prestigious King’s College, Cambridge with an Honors degree in History.

Verses of Satan

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Verses of Satan

He got British citizenship. renounced his Islamic religious beliefs. He was also an actor for some time. After that he started writing novels.

His first book ‘Grimus’ was not a big success. But writing helped him realize that he had talent.

It took Rushdie 5 years to write his second book, Midnight’s Children. It was widely appreciated. It sold a record of 5 lakh copies.

Midnight’s Children talked about India. The next novel, Shame, published in 1983, was about Pakistan. Four years later, Rushdie wrote ‘The Jaguar Smile’, a novel about a trip to Nicaragua.

In September 1988, his life-threatening novel Satanic Versus was published. This post-modern novel caused outrage among Muslims. They felt that the novel insulted their religion.

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie

India is the first country to ban it. After that other Muslim countries including Pakistan followed India and banned Rushdie’s book.

However, the novel was praised for its writing. Won the Whitbread Prize for Novels. But as soon as the novel became popular, the opposition to it also increased sharply. Many people took to the streets and started fighting.

Some Muslims considered the novel an insult to Islam. Muslims condemned several aspects of the story, including the naming of two sex workers after the Prophet Muhammad’s wives.

The title Satan’s Verses refers to two verses removed from the Quran by the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad is believed to have believed that both verses were from the devil.

In January 1989, Muslims burned a copy of the book in Bradford, Britain. Newspaper agents stopped displaying his books. But Rushdie denied the blasphemy charges against him.

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie

People were killed in riots against Rushdie. The British Embassy in Tehran, the capital of Iran, was attacked. A bounty of US$ 3 million was announced on Rushdie’s head.

Meanwhile, some Muslim leaders in Britain advised patience. But others supported Iran’s supreme leader. Western countries including America and France condemned the death threats against Rushdie.

After that Rushdie started living in hiding with his wife under police protection. He expressed deep regret for the suffering caused to Muslims. Yet Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader, resurrected the anti-Rushti padwa.

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie

Like Rushdie, its sellers and publishers received death threats.

At the same time the book became a bestseller in countries on both sides of the Atlantic. European countries like Britain supported Rushdie. Most countries withdrew ambassadors from Tehran.

Meanwhile, in July 1991, Hitoshi, the Japanese translator of Rushdie’s book, was killed in Tokyo. Police said he was stabbed several times outside the university, where he worked as an assistant professor.

Earlier that month, Ettore Capriolo, an Italian translator, was stabbed to death in his apartment in Milan. However, he survived.

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie

In 1998, the Iranian government had a change of heart. It withdrew its official support for the Padwa issued against Rushdie.

Rushdie also wrote many books after Satan’s Verses. These include Haroun and the Sea of ​​Stories (1990), Imaginary Homelands (1991), The Moors Last Si (1995), and The Ground.

Rushdie was married four times. He has two children. Lately he has been living in America. He was awarded a Sir in 2007 for his services to literature.

In 2012, he published a memoir of his life surrounding the Satanic Verses controversy.

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Why is Salman rushdie, why did he attack?


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