Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan has told the Dail that author Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses “begged a response.” Rushdie was recently attacked and left blinded in one eye and partially crippled after he was stabbed repeatedly whilst speaking at a conference.
Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, told the Spanish newspaper El País, that the author had “three serious wounds in his neck. One hand is incapacitated because the nerves in his arm were cut. And he has about 15 more wounds in his chest and torso.” He described the attack on the author as “brutal.”
Deputy Durkan said that “the book was seen as an expression of freedom of speech, but I saw it as something else. I saw it as something that begged a response.” The TD went on to say that the book was “threatening” to people of “selected religions” and that “those people saw a reason for a retaliation because they were sensitive about it and retaliation happened.”
The Deputy made his statements during a discussion regarding safety initiatives in Dublin city.
A fatwa calling for Rushie’s death was issued by Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. The Ayatollah claimed the book insulted the beliefs of Muslims. Rushdie, in response, denied his book was blasphemous and said that he doubted that the Ayatollah had actually read the book.
Since the issuing of the fatwa there have been numerous attempts on Rushdie’s life, and the lives of those associated with the book. In 1991 the academic who translated the book into Japanese, Hitoshi Igarashi, was found dead in his office after being stabbed multiple times by an unknown assailant. In 1993 a mob burned down a hotel in Turkey in an attempt to kill a Turkish novelist who had translated and published an excerpt of the book. The translator, who was 78 years old at the time, escaped the burning hotel using a ladder. More than 30 people died in the fire. 1993 also saw the Norwegian publisher of the book shot three times, although he made a full recovery.
Deputy Durkan told the Dail that “nobody knocked on Salman Rushdie’s door and told him he had started up something he should not have.”
This is currently a bounty of several million euro for the killing of Rushdie.