Numerous Fatwa victims against «Satanic Verses»

Art 15 August, 2022

Salman Rushdie needed only a few pages of one of his novels to be in mortal danger. Having published «The Satanic Verses» in 1989, an excerpt from which Ayatollah Khomeini called blasphemy, the British author became the target of a fatwa according to which Tehran offered three million dollars to anyone who would shoot the writer.

On August 12, during a conference in New York State, Salman Rushdie was the victim of a brutal knife attack, which he survived after being taken to hospital by helicopter. However, he is not the only victim of this Iranian fatwa. Two of his translators were stabbed: Japanese Hitoshi Igarashi died of wounds, and Italian Ettore Capriolo survived.

Another Turkish translator was the victim of arson in 1993 in Sivas, Turkey. He managed to escape from the burning hotel, but 37 people died in the fire, including 33 intellectuals.

The attempted murder of Salman Rushdie reminds those who seemed to have forgotten that the fundamental freedoms of modern society, such as freedom of creativity and self-expression, are constantly under threat from totalitarian ideologies all over the world.

These hateful and contemptuous ideologies regarding these freedoms are based on political or religious theories whose self-proclaimed legitimacy raises questions. The case of Salman Rushdie makes us think about the place of religion and the sacred in our modern world.

If freedom of conscience gives everyone the right to think anything about the origin of the world and its creation, then the revealed truths of religions cannot impose their prescriptions on society as a whole. However, we have been observing for several years that religious practices have become more and more intrusive, authoritarian when they do not pose a threat. This drift seriously undermines the delicate balance of democratic societies and creates an atmosphere of insecurity, intimidation and violence that is no longer acceptable.

Any speech criticizing a religious dogma, even the most insignificant, immediately comes under attack by death threats, and citizens, fearing for their lives, prefer to give up the freedom of expression of their disagreement. This renunciation also affects the world of art and creativity, which has integrated this violence and prefers to engage in other, less deadly subjects. «No one will dare to publish the Satanic Verses today», – we have long heard about the work of Salman Rushdie.

This is the goal of religious fanatics: to dissuade with the help of terror from creating works that challenge their dogmas, which, nevertheless, are based on very little, namely, on several visions of great mystics.

Can our modern societies be built around texts written by exalted spirits? Nothing is sacred. The paradox is that today the mobilization to condemn the attack on Salman Rushdie seems stronger than the artists who continue to create works that will perpetuate the vision of the author of the «Satanic Verses». Because after all those who have already been killed, like Theo Van Gogh, and those who were stabbed during conferences, like Salman Rushdie, who will remain to continue their reflections and their struggle?