Salman Rushdie: Who is the writer who was stabbed and unwittingly became a symbol of freedom of expression

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The author of the global best seller “The Satanic Verses”, Salman Rushdie, came into the news after his serious injury in a knife attack which he received on Friday in New York, while speaking at an event.

The famous author remains intubated he is at risk of losing sight in one eye, has suffered severe damage to the nerves of one hand and the liver. The same time the authorities proceeded to identify the perpetrator.

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More generally, Salman Rushdie he was trying after the 1989 fatfa, which called for his assassination, not to be seen only as the protagonist of this case that set the Muslim world on fire.

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“My problem is that people continue to see me only through the lens of the fatfa”he himself once said, who wants to be considered a writer and not a symbol.

But the rise in power of radical Islam in recent years has not ceased to bring it back to what it has always been in the eyes of the West: the symbol of the fight against religious obscurantism and for freedom of expression.

Already in 2005 he believed that this fatfa was a prelude to the attacks of September 11, 2001. And in 2016 he noted: “My case was only the harbinger of a much wider phenomenon that now affects us all”.

He had recounted in his memoirs entitled “Joseph Anton”, released in 2012, the upheaval of his life when the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on February 14, 1989, called on Muslims around the world to kill him, as fundamentalists judged that the his work “The Satanic Verses” was blasphemous against the Koran and Muhammad.

Forced to live clandestinely and under police protection, going from hiding place to hiding place, he went around under the name Josef Anton, in honor of his favorite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

He had to deal with immense loneliness, which increased even more after the break with his wife, the American novelist Marian Wiggins, to whom “The Satanic Verses” is dedicated.

“I am silenced and imprisoned (…) I would like to play ball with my son in the park. The ordinary, banal life is for me an impossible dream”he wrote.

But from 1993, tired of being “an invisible man”, he multiplied his travels and public appearances, remaining under the supervision of the British government.

After settling in New York and before his attack, Salman Rushdie had resumed a more or less normal life, continuing to defend satire and irreverence in his books.

The fatfa did not come, and many translators of his book were injured by attacks and even killed, such as Japan’s Hitoshi Igarashi, the victim of a knife attack in 1991.

“Thirty years have passed”he said anyway in the fall of 2018. “Now everything is going well. I was 41 years old then (at the time of the fatfa), I am 71 now. We live in a world where issues of concern change very quickly. There are now many other reasons to fear, other people to kill…”.

His book, he has since explained, “was not understood”. “It was actually a novel about Asian immigrants in south London and their religion was only one facet of that story,” he said.

Magic realism

The Queen of England gave him an honorary degree in 2007much to the dismay of Muslim extremists, and this meter of magical realism, a man of vast culture who professes to be apolitical, has written in English fifteen novels, short stories for young people, novellas and essays.

Salman Rushdie, whose mother tongue is Urdu, was born on June 19, 1947 in Bombay (Mumbai), India into a family of non-religious Muslim intellectuals, rich, progressive and cultured. He devours the Indian epics and participates in the celebrations, both Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

At 13, he goes to study in England. After graduating from Cambridge University, he works in Pakistan as a television producer. A target of constant censorship, he returns to London and earns his living from advertising.

His first famous novel is “Midnight’s Children”, which in 1981 was awarded the Booker Prize. Followed by “Oneidos” (in 1985 it was honored in France with the prize for the best foreign book), “The last sigh of the Moor”, “The world under her feet”, “Salimar, the clown”, “The godmother of Florence ».

Novels in which this lover of fantasy odysseys often talks about India and its relations with the West and denounces the absence of reference points that, according to him, has been destabilizing the world for years.

Former president of the PEN American Center, a great reader of the German author Guinder Grass and the Russian Mikhail Bulgakov, Salman Rushdie was married and divorced four times. His last divorce dates back to 2007, with Indian-born actress and model Padma Lakshmi.

Source: News Beast

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