Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie was brutally attacked with a knife on Friday. The attack comes 33 years after a murder fatwa was issued against him. On February 14, 1989, the then Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa against Rushdie. Khomeini issued a fatwa for Rushdie's murder for his book The Satanic Verses. He claimed that the author has insulted Islam in his book. In his fatwa, Khomeini appealed to "Muslims all over the world to kill the author and publisher of the book" so that "no one in the future dares to insult Islam."
The Indian-born author was coming off a career as a copywriter, coming up with catchphrases like "naughty but nice" for cream pies, for example. He had no idea of the tsunami of outrage that would overshadow the rest of his life, or that he was about to become a geopolitical booby trap.
By October 1988, he was already in need of a bodyguard in the face of an avalanche of death threats, trip cancellations and barricading. One Muslim-majority country after another banned the book, and in December thousands of Muslims demonstrated in Bolton, Greater Manchester, burning a pile of books. In Islamabad, six people were killed in a mob attack on the American cultural center in the Pakistani capital to protest the book. There were riots in Srinagar and Kashmir.
Iranian leader Khomeini, then 89, said anyone who dies while following the fatwa should be considered a "martyr" and go straight to "Jannat." A $2.8 million bounty was also placed on the author's head. Following this, the British police immediately provided Rushdie with police protection. For almost 13 years, Salman Rushdie lived a secret life under an assumed name, Joseph Anton. He changed his location 56 times in the first six months.
On February 14, 1989, Khomeini asked to be killed for writing "The Satanic Verses," which the cleric said insulted Islam.
In a fatwa, or religious decree, Khomeini urged "the world's Muslims to swiftly execute the book's author and publishers" so that "no one dares further offend the sacred values of Islam."
Khomeini, who was 89 years old and had only four months to live, added that anyone who was killed trying to carry out the death sentence should be considered a "martyr" who would go to paradise.
Timelines of events
February 12, 1989: At least six people are killed in a shootout between police and gunmen in a crowd protesting the sale of the novel in the United States in the Pakistani city of Islamabad.
February 14, 1989: The fatwa. Khomeini calls on all Muslims to kill Rushdie.
February 24, 1989: Twelve people are killed in Mumbai when police open fire to stop a crowd of 10,000 protesters from marching on the British High Commission.
May 27, 1989: Pro-Iranian and pro-Iraqi factions clash as some 30,000 Muslim protesters gather outside the British parliament.
September 14, 1989: Four bombs are planted in front of bookstores in Britain owned by Penguin, publisher of The Satanic Verses.
July 3, 1991: Ettore Capriolo, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses, is beaten and knifed in his Milan apartment by a man claiming to be Iranian.
July 12, 1991 – Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi is stabbed to death in Tokyo by a fleeing attacker.
September 7, 1995: After six years under police protection and living in safe houses, Rushdie appears in London in his first previously announced public appearance since the fatwa was issued.
February 12, 1997: Eight years after first posting a bounty, the 15th Iranian Revolutionary Khordad Foundation increases the bounty on Rushdie's head to $2.5 million.
September 22, 1998: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says the Rushdie affair is "completely over."
September 24, 1998: Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi tells British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook at the United Nations in New York that Iran will not take any action to threaten Rushdie's life, nor will it encourage no one to do it.
September 28, 1998: Iranian media says that three Iranian clerics have called on Islamic supporters to kill Rushdie under the fatwa.
October 4, 1998: Some 160 members of the Iranian parliament say that the death decree against Rushdie is still valid.
October 10, 1998: A group of hard-line Iranian students set a one billion rial (then $333,000) bounty on Rushdie's head.
Oct. 12, 1998: Iranian state-linked religious foundation increases its $2.5 million reward by $300,000.
February 3, 1999: Mumbai-born Rushdie receives a visa from the Indian government to visit the country of his birth, sparking Muslim protests.
June 15, 2007: Rushdie is knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth for his services to literature, prompting diplomatic protests from Pakistan and Iran and demonstrations in Pakistan and Malaysia.
January 20, 2012: Rushdie cancels his plans to attend a major literature festival in Jaipur, India, following protests from some Indian Muslim groups.
September 16, 2012: Iranian religious foundation increases its reward for Rushdie's murder to $3.3 million.
June 20, 2014: Rushdie wins the annual PEN/Pinter Award for his support of free speech and what the judges call his generous help to other writers.
October 13, 2015: Rushdie warns of new dangers to free speech in the West amid tight security at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Iranian Ministry of Culture cancelled its national booth at the fair over Rushdie's appearance.
February 22, 2016: Iranian state media adds $600,000 to a reward for Rushdie's murder.
June 1, 2022: Rushdie is made a Companion of Honor at the British Queen's annual birthday honours.
August 12, 2022: Rushdie is attacked onstage at a literary event in Chautauqua, western New York, and airlifted to a local hospital for treatment.
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