Murderous attack on Author Salman Rushdie : A religious frenzy

Mr Chandrasekhar Nene

During an event in New York on 12th August 2022, Salman Rushdie, famous author of the book ‘The Satanic Verses’, was attacked by a 24-year-old Muslim headhunter named ‘Hadi Matar’. Hadi Matar resides at a religious institution in New Jersey, near New York.

Rushdie is a novelist, and was born in India. He has written many popular books. As such, he has been praised by critics as well as readers, but some writings in the book ‘The Satanic Verses’ (written by him in 1988) were found to be offensive to Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini, the then supreme religious leader of the Shia Muslims, told his followers that Rushdie had insulted the Quran and the Prophet. So on 14th February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa that Rushdie is ‘awarded’ the punishment of death. After this fatwa, Rushdie declared, “I apologise if anyone’s feelings have been hurt by my writings”. Yet, this fatwa was not withdrawn.

Since then, Rushdie has lived in the shadow of constant fear. Since he is a British citizen, he is protected by the British Government; but after this incident, he had to live in hiding forever. It is inhuman to live like this for 33 years under the shadow of doubt and fear that religious fanatics may kill him anytime and anywhere.

1. The translators of Rushdie’s book faced murderous attacks and his book was banned in India by the erstwhile Congress Government

Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese author who translated ‘The Satanic Verses’ into Japanese, was also murdered, and two other translating authors faced murderous attacks; however, they survived only because of luck. Within a few months after this fatwa, the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, issued a Government order, prohibiting the sale or import of ‘The Satanic Verses’ in India. He had not even bothered to read it before taking action.

Congress and opposition parties, which now shout loudly about freedom of expression in the media, are silent on this order even today, and they still do not come forward to protest the murderous attempt on Rushdie’s life. This shows their ‘love’ for freedom of expression.

2. It is possible that Hadi Matar attacked Rushdie under the influence of the terrorist organisation ‘Hezbollah’

Hadi Matar, who attacked Rushdie, was born in California. Both his parents immigrated to the United States from the small southern town of Yaroun, Lebanon. The Iranian-backed terrorist organisation Hezbollah has a lot of influence in Yaroun. Perhaps this is why Hadi Matar came under the influence of Hezbollah. He may have decided to kill Rushdie according to the Iranian fatwa. It is also a wonder that the US Government allows people under the influence of such an organisation to enter their country. Now, his father has gone back to his village Yaroun and has isolated himself from society. His mother does not like this terrible crime committed by her son. She said, “Hadi Matar went to Lebanon in 2018. He had completely changed when he came back. He used to live alone and his behaviour were not good”.

There is a possibility that while in Lebanon, he came under the influence of Hezbollah and decided to come back and do something ‘noble (?)’. He then got a driving license made under a false name and went to Rushdie’s event with a free pass. During the programme, he climbed on the stage and did this heinous task. In other words, it was not difficult for this 24-year-old fanatic to stab 75-year-old Rushdie, and there was nothing brave about it. This is the work of a coward. He has been caught by the American Police and charged with attempted murder. Now, he will be prosecuted as soon as possible and will definitely be punished.

3. An in-depth thought ought to be given to Islamic fanatical education

However, some important questions arise after the Rushdie incident. It is very necessary to consider them from the perspective of happiness, peace and prosperity of our society. One is that the attack took place in the US. It is a wealthy country that values ‘total individual liberty’. The financial state of this murderous youth was average; he was not very poor. Why did he want to commit such a crime ? His inspiration comes from extreme religious fanaticism. We have been fighting this type of frenzied terrorism in India for many years now. This was also the motivation for the 11th September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers in the US. Its origins can be seen in Islamic fundamentalist training. It is rightly suspected that Islamic madarasas are providing such training. All law and order agencies of the Indian Government need to think deeply about this matter.

4. Necessary to destroy the venom behind the present events taking place in India

The constant threats to Nupur Sharma in India, the fatal/murderous attacks on her supporters are also a repeat of the ‘high profile’ crimes that took place in the US. Here, it is very necessary for our social organisations, media workers, politicians and the judiciary to come together to destroy this venom. The illusion of false secularism must be strongly condemned, investigation into this type of crime should be conducted at a faster pace, and the culprits should be caught and punished severely, so that new criminals who may carry out such acts are deterred. How would this case progress in the US ? And how soon will this murderer be punished ? This will be known in due time; however, in our country, how soon do people (who have been caught so far in such acts) get punished in their cases ? Will such crimes reduce or not ? All such things are under consideration.

5. The Iranian Government’s strange reaction to the attack on Rushdie

The important thing is that the Iranian Government has reacted strangely to this incident, ‘The US Government and the citizens involved in this incident are themselves responsible for the attack’. The Iranian Government has never apologised about the fatwa issued by the Iranian cleric, nor has it taken back this fatwa even after so many years. If the whole civilised world does not oppose and condemn this, then such murders will continue to take place, and we will have to witness them openly.

(Courtesy : Chandrasekhar Nene in Weekly ‘Vivek’)

If the civilised world does not oppose fatwas, murders will continue to take place, and we will witness them openly !