During a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Rushdie described the attempt on his life two years ago and the dangers of censorship. Keep reading to find out more!

Who is Salman Rushdie?

In his first major television interview, British-American author Salman Rushdie spoke with Andersen Cooper about the harrowing attempt on his life back in 2022. The 76-year-old Indian-born author recounted frightening details about the attack.

Who is Salman Rushdie?

In Chautauqua, New York at the Chautauqua Institute, Rushdie was ironically giving a speech on freedom of expression when he was attacked and stabbed by a member of the audience. The perpetrator stabbed Rushdie in the neck, hand, leg, abdomen, and chest, and caused the author to lose his right eye.

“It felt like something coming out of the distant past,” Rushdie recounted to Cooper. The attacker, a Muslim American from New Jersey, was “trying to drag me back in time” to a “distant past, in order to kill me,”

What is The Satanic Verses About Ayatollah Khomeini Fatwa

That distant past Rushdie refers to is the controversy surrounding his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. The 600-page book is about two men who seem to represent the societal binaries of good and evil through their transformations as the angel Gabriel and the devil, respectively.

The book received immediate backlash from conservative Muslims, specifically for its depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and for naming prostitutes in the book after the prophet’s wives. Several Muslim countries banned The Satanic Verses. Those who criticized the book found its depiction of the prophet blasphemous. The most infamous of these responses to the book’s publication was the issuance of a fatwa by then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

What is a Fatwa?

The fatwa, a formal interpretation of Islamic law by a qualified scholar, called for the deaths of Rushdie, and editors and publishers of the book around the world. In the wake of the controversy, several people unfortunately lost their lives, including a Japanese translator of the book who was stabbed to death. The killer was never found.

What is a Fatwa?

After the fatwa’s publication, Rushdie had to go into hiding for 10 years. Receiving protection from the British police, Rushdie revealed while in hiding, there were 6 serious attempts on his life from Iranian agents. Not wanting to be defined by the fatwa, Rushdie slowly came out of hiding, going on to publish several more books.

Shortly before the stabbing in August 2022, an Iranian-controlled website republished the fatwa. The attacker said he’d only read a few pages of The Satanic Verses. Cooper notes many people who criticized the book didn’t read it.

What is Censorship?

Rushdie’s decades-long battle against censorship—suppressing certain voices, books, films, or other information—comes at a time when campaigns to ban books and cancel people for things perceived to be offensive. Speaking with Cooper, Rushdie himself described the current climate around expression as a “bad moment” with attacks coming from “so many different directions.”

The author describes how calls for censorship have morphed from being mostly from right-wing, conservative voices to including younger progressives. Rushdie warns that censoring individuals supposedly in the name of protecting minorities is a “slippery slope” because the first group of people to suffer from censorship historically are minorities.

“It can lead to the opposite of what you want,”

What are the biggest stories trending online today? Read the latest here

Published by HOLR Magazine.

Image Credit: @60 Minutes YouTube

Comments are closed.