Salman Rushdie and the Wider Effects Of Blasphemy Accusations

September 2, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director for RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, this week published a piece in Religion Unplugged in which he discusses the recent attack against British-American author Salman Rushdie, and the broader problem of blasphemy accusations. Marshall writes:

The Aug. 12 stabbing of author Salman Rushdie was a vivid reminder that threats that we had thought were fading are still with us and even growing. But we often misunderstand those threats, and this distorts our understanding of the dangers of blasphemy accusations. 

Rushdie’s attacker, Hadi Matar, said he was motivated by the late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa, an Islamic religious edict. That fatwa declared that Rushdie’s novel, “The Satanic Verses”, was blasphemous, that Rushdie was both a blasphemer and apostate, and that it was the religious duty of every Muslim to kill him.  

Apart from Rushdie, in recent years there have been the 2020 terrorist beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty and the deadly attacks on the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and 2020. Earlier, there was the 2004 butchery and attempted beheading of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in an Amsterdam street because of “Submission”, a documentary he had made with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the killings around the world following the 2005 publication of the “Mohamed Cartoons” in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. 

These examples can be multiplied, but while cases in the West draw attention, they are atypical. In order to understand the dangers of blasphemy in the modern world, we need to look further afield. 

Read the full article here: “Salman Rushdie And The Wider Effects Of Blasphemy Accusations.