Famed author Salman Rushdie, who was the target of a 1989 death warrant issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini over his groundbreaking book “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed on Friday as he was about to give a speech in New York.
A man stormed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbed Rushdie, according to The Associated Press, which also noted that the Iranian regime has offered over $3 million to anyone who kills Rushdie. His condition is not known.
“In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million,” Bloomberg noted.
BREAKING: Author Salman Rushdie has been attacked as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. An @AP reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. https://t.co/bVTbfkLjyL
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2022
Salman Rushdie was just stabbed – there’s been a fatwa on him from the Ayatollah of Iran since 1989. Comes right after the arrest of someone Iran paid $300k to kill John Bolton and the threats to Masih Alinejad in Brooklyn. I’m going to say it’s not a coincidence.
— Lahav Harkov (@LahavHarkov) August 12, 2022
Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” title referred to verses of the Quran that Rushdie claimed had been removed; he also made references to Islam that hard-liners deemed offensive. After the fatwa was issued against him he spent almost 10 years living mostly underground.
“I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content are sentenced to death,” Khomeini stated in his fatwa targeting Rushdie.
Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi urged Hezbollah groups to “take the necessary action” against Rushdie, a native of India.
“I am very sad it should have happened. It is not true this book is a blasphemy against Islam,” Rushdie responded. “I doubt very much Khomeini or anyone else in Iran has read this book or anything more than selected extracts taken out of context.”
In February 1989, five people were killed and another 80 were injured in Islamabad, Pakistan, when thousands of Muslims angry about Rushdie’s book marched toward an American cultural center. Two demonstrators climbed to the roof and yanked down American flag.
In March 1989, after the fatwa was issued against him, the United Kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Iran over the issue. In 1998, the Iranian government said it would “neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie” in order to renew relations with Great Britain, but in 2005, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirmed the fatwa against Rushdie. At the time, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards stated that the death sentence was still valid.
According to the BBC’s Frances Harrison, Iranian religious authorities said the fatwa could only be lifted by Ayatollah Khomeini, who died in 1989.