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Who is Salman Rushdie?

Salman Rushdie is an English-Indian writer. He is the author of several works, including Midnight’s Children, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, Grimus, Shame, The Ground Beneath her Feet and his much talked about The Satanic Verses. Born in Bombay, India in 1947 (near the dawn of Independence,) Rushdie lives in hiding from a Fatwa imposed by the Ayatollah. The Ayathollah (of the Shi'a tradition) Ruhollah Khomeini (a high ranking authority on the subject of interpreting the Teachings of The Prophet) decreed Rushdie’s fiction The Satanic Verses to be ‘blasphemous and evil’ and pronounced Rushdie to be ‘a man destined for hell.’ This was done in 1988. [Khomeini was a leading figure in the 1979 Revolution in Iran that lead to the downfall of the King of Iran (The Shah) and the calling of an Islamic republic, in which Khomeini soon gained nearly full control. Khomeini and his followers tried to start simillar revolutions in other Arabic Contries, but failed, exept perhaps for Lebanon and palestine (Hizbollah). It is rumored that the fatwa was a last-ditch attempt to spark some interest in the Islamic Revolution.]

There is a price of US $ 5,000,000 (Can$ 7,750,000) on Rushdie’s head. The writer went into hiding soon after the publication of his Verses, when the Ayatollah implored ‘all good Muslims’ to seek out and kill the writer (or, in the Ayatollah’s words, ‘to aid the sending of this man to an eternal hell’).

Rushdie sought refuge in England, where he "came out" onstage at a U2 concert, on the stage at Wembley Arena, in front of 50,000 people. Coming out onto the stage, he pronounced to singer Bono, who was wearing horns, "I am not afraid of men who wear horns: I know who the real devils are!" and then swiftly went back into hiding.

Rushdie, left, comes out of hiding at Wembley Arena. Beside him is Bono, of God-like Genius Rock Band U2.

Rushdie’s Verses (which are fiction that allege Islam to be a mistake, and which declare that the sacred Mohammed was not speaking the word of God) regarded as evil by many. It is not advisable to flash your copy around in a strongly Muslim country!

After the death of Khomeini in 1989, milder winds have started to blow over Iran, and the reward on Rushdies head has been cancelled. The fatwa however still stands, and the Ayatollah recently ‘renewed’ it. Rushdie now lives in hiding, though he has managed to continue writing from England and has been a part of many projects, including films, soundtracks and anthologies.

USABB asks the Ayatollah that if the banning must continue, please at least lift the fatwa from Rushdie’s head.

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