According to Reuters, while being presented, British novelist Salman Rushdie was stabbed in his neck by an intruder on stage at the Chautauqua Institution.
The United States was brought up as a safe haven for exiled authors and other creatives, as well as a place where people are free to express themselves without fear of retribution.
The likelihood that a jihadist carried this out is relatively high.
History and the Fatwa
Younger readers should know that “The Satanic Verses” was first released in September 1988.
In addition, the book was banned in Rushdie’s home country of India and many others, due to its allegedly disrespectful portrayal of the prophet Muhammad. This includes the vast majority of Muslim-populated countries throughout the world.
In the beginning, Rushdie turned against his own work, apologizing several times for its content while becoming a staunch defender of free expression later on.
In one remark, he expressed his deep remorse for the pain he knew the book’s publication would cause to devout Muslims and asked the paperback version be delayed. His stance made sense from a self-defense perspective.
Still, nothing worked. Ayatollah Khomeini, the head of state of Iran, issued a fatwa ordering all Muslims to “use all he has” to kill Rushdie, even if he became the most devout man of all time.
Terrorism after World War II has never before sought to stifle free speech in the tolerant West. In the United States, two bookstores were targeted in Berkeley, California.
After printing an editorial supporting the freedom to read the novel and condemning the retailers who removed it from their shelves, arsonists set fire to the Riverdale Press in New York.
Hitoshi Igarashi, who translated works by Salman Rushdie into Japanese, was stabbed to death.
'A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.'
—Humanists UK patron and novelist Salman Rushdie on freedom of expression pic.twitter.com/VMutyElw7W
— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) August 12, 2022
Also attacked in Europe, but luckily surviving, were Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of “The Satanic Verses,” and William Nygaard, the Norwegian publisher of Rushdie’s book.
A Belgian imam and his assistant were killed for their moderate views on the incident. In April of 1989, several major bookshops in London were bombed.
Two more explosions were linked to the book’s sale, along with a few additional unexploded explosives in smaller bookstores.
Author Salman Rushdie, known for his groundbreaking work “Midnight’s Children” and other amazing works, was obliged to hire bodyguards to protect him at all times and go into hiding for the following decade.
Reflecting this evening on how easy it is to take the right to free expression for granted, and how the real test of whether we understand its value is whether we defend it not when it’s easy, but when it’s costly and hard. What a price Rushdie has paid over the decades.
— Sonia Sodha (@soniasodha) August 12, 2022
The fatwa was intended not just to punish Rushdie for his blasphemy, but also to discourage others from taking up the cause. Clearly, that was effective.
The European Union and, to a lesser extent, the United States, started to self-censor any discussion that would anger Islamic theocrats.
While no one should be promised employment or publication, giving in to illiberal pressure just encourages greater violence and intimidation, as we witnessed with Charlie Hebdo and the many incidents that followed.
Of late, the left has taken to simply labeling as Islamophobic anyone who points out the extremism of political Islam.
Although the Biden administration is attempting to negotiate a deal that would give Iran’s theocratic zealots nuclear weapons, we must never lose sight of the fact this is the result of their actions.
The reality is the fatwa is still in effect today, even if the assailant in question is not a jihadi. Iran increased the price to approximately $4 million in 2016.
Iran funds bounties against innocent authors when it’s not disrupting the Middle East through proxies, bombing Jewish organizations in Argentina, scaring American voters, scheming to kill former American officials, or killing over 600 U.S. troops in Iraq.This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.