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For the past 33 years, world-renowned writer Salman Rushdie has lived under threat because of his writings.
Rushdie was forced into hiding after the publication of his novel in 1988, Satanic poems. It took almost a decade for Rashida to become more prominent and visible, although he continued to write short stories. Today, Rushdie is widely known as a defender of artistic expression.
He was scheduled to speak on the issue at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York on Friday when a 24-year-old man walked on stage and stabbed the author in the neck and chest, New York State Police said. Rushdie remains in the hospital. His attacker, Hadi Matar, was charged with attempted murder and assault.
Rushdie, 75, was born in India and later grew up in England. He has written 14 novels, many of which have been translated into more than 40 languages and won numerous awards. In 2008, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Rushdie.
Why some found Rushdie’s work offensive
The controversy began after Rushdie published his fourth novel, Satanic poemsin 1988.
The story centers on two Indian Muslims living in England. He reinterprets parts of the Prophet Muhammad’s life and in one section suggests that the founder of Islam may have flirted with polytheism.
Historians have disputed whether this interpretation is supported by Islamic texts, but in a 2012 interview with NPR. morning show the author said it was irrelevant.
“My goal was not to write only about Islam,” said Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim family.
“To my mind, the story—as it exists in the novel—represents the new idea of a nascent religion quite well, because it shows that it might actually have entertained a compromise, but then rejected it; and when she won, she was quite merciful.’
The backlash included violent protests, the burning of bookstores, and orders to kill Rushdie
Satanic poems received an immediate and violent backlash from Muslims who found the book’s portrayal of Islam offensive.
A few months after its publication, the novel was banned in several countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. His home country, India, banned the import of the book.
The controversy also sparked violent protests and attacks on bookstores around the world. Several people associated with the novel have also come under threat — including Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese scholar who translated the book, who was assassinated in 1991.
In 1989, the leader of Iran called for Rushdie’s death, and a reward of several million dollars was offered. Iran rescinded the religious order, also known as a fatwa, in 1998, saying it would “neither support nor obstruct operations to kill Rushdie.” However, the order has not been officially revoked.
Rushdie wrote a memoir about his time in hiding, which was published in 2012. He lived under the pseudonym Joseph Anton.
“One of the most surprising aspects of this is that no one thought it would last very long,” he told NPR in 2012. – They said: “Just lie down for a few days and let the diplomats and politicians do their job and it will be solved.” Instead, it ended up taking almost 12 years.”
Literary freedom group PEN America said in a statement that Rushdie had been targeted for decades but “never flinched or wavered.”
“We cannot think of a single similar case of a public violent attack on a man of letters on American soil,” CEO Suzanne Nosel wrote. “We hope and fervently believe that his leading voice cannot and will not be silenced.”