Salman Rushdie Is Still Not Safe

Some scary news for this controversial writer: Media outlets in Iran have raised $600,000 to increase the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. This is the largest coordinated effort toward this fatwa since it was first issued in 1989, following the publication of Rushdie’s infamous The Satanic Verses. At the time, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was so outraged by the “blasphemous” book, that he offered a bounty for Rushdie’s assassination. Today, the reward for Rushdie’s murder runs into millions of dollars.

Rushdie went into hiding for several years under police protection, but in 1998, Iran’s then-president declared that the fatwa was “finished." However, religious officials in Iran have reiterated the threat multiple times; the deputy culture minister Seyed Abbas Salehi told Fars News that it is “a religious decree and it will never lose its power.” This latest united effort is a stark reminder that Rushdie is still not safe.

The book was so hated in Iran that anyone involved in its publication was in danger. The Italian translator, Norwegian publisher, and Turkish translator all survived terrifying attacks on their lives in their own countries — the latter of which was an arson attack that killed 37 people. The Japanese translator was, tragically, stabbed to death in 1991.

Rushdie’s son and publicist, Zafar Rushdie, told The Economic Times that he would not be commenting on the new fatwa on Rushdie.