What is a fatwa – why was one ordered against Salman Rushdie?

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Salman Rushdiw was stabbed on stage in New York, 33 years after a fatwa was ordered against him following the publication of The Satanic Verses



<p>A fatwa was ordered against writer Salman Rushdie after his 1988 book The Satanic Verses was published.  (Image credit: Getty Images)</p><div data-ad-id=
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A fatwa was ordered against writer Salman Rushdie following the publication of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Novelist Salman Rushdie has been hospitalized after being stabbed in the neck on stage in New York.

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The author was performing at the Chautauqua Institute and was about to give a lecture when he was attacked.

Mr Rushdiw has remained controversial in public following the publication of his 1988 novel The Satantic Verses.

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In 1989, after its publication, a fatwa was declared against the writer.

But what is a fatwa and why was one ordered against Mr Rushdie?

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A fatwa was ordered against writer Salman Rushdie following the publication of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses. (Image credit: Getty Images)

What is a fatwa?

A fatwa is a legal decree or statement issued by an Islamic leader.

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It can be brought against a range of issues – including individuals, governments or products.

Death fatwas, although rare, can be imposed on those believed to have seriously disregarded the Islamic faith.

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Why was a fatwa ordered against Salman Rushdie?

The publication of Mr Rushdie’s 1988 novel The Satanic Verses led to widespread controversy over claims that the content was Islamophobic.

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The author has been accused of mocking religion and the Prophet Muhammad based on the content of the novel.

Mr. Rushdie incorporated several plot points into his novel that caused an annoying uproar.

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These included naming a group of prostitutes after the wives of Prophet Muhammad, as well as the similarly named character Mahound, who lives in a town called Jahilia and appears to have a vision of a devil-sent polytheistic religion.

The sale of the book was banned in several countries, and there were also protests against the book’s publication.

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On February 14, 1989, Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Rulhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Mr Rushdie, calling on “all brave Muslims” to kill the author and anyone associated with the translation or distribution of the book.

Also, a $3 million bounty was added to the fatwa.

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What happened to Salman Rushdie?

In response to the fatwa, Mr Rushdie, who grew up in the Islamic faith, said: “I am very sad that it should have happened. It is not true that this book is a blasphemy against Islam. I very much doubt that Khomeini or anyone else in Iran read the book or read more than selected excerpts out of context.”

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He has made consistent statements over the years, adding in 1990 that “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his final prophet,” before adding that the characters in his novel who “reveal the authenticity of the Holy Qur’ , or who rejects the divinity of Allah” did not represent his own views.

The author has since declared himself a “hardline atheist”.

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After the fatwa was declared, Mr Rushdie was hidden for almost a decade and placed under 24-hour police protection by Scotland Yard.

Nevertheless, there were numerous attempts on his life.

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On 3 August 1989 Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh was killed while preparing a book bomb to be delivered to Mr Rushdie in Paddington, London. The Organization of the Mujahideen of Islam said he died preparing an attack on the author.

He was also included in the al-Qaeda hit list released in 2010, which lists organizations and individuals they claim have insulted Islam.

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Most recently, Mr Rushdiw was attacked on stage in New York, but it has yet to be confirmed whether this attack was related to the fatwa against him.

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