The Satanic Verses: What happened to the translators who have worked on the controversial book?

·2 min read

Hitoshi Igarashi, who was the first Japanese scholar to translate Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Since then several translators of the controversial book have faced physical attacks.

The 1988 book, which was published by Viking Penguin on 26 September 1988 in the UK, and on 22 February 1989 in the US, became instantly controversial in Islamic communities because of what some Muslims considered blasphemous references.

A year after the novel’s release, in 1989, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa or religious ruling, ordering Muslims to kill the author.

Mr Rushdie was put under round-the-clock security from 1989 to 2002, when a $3m bounty was put on his head.

Apart from Mr Rushdie, many others affiliated with the book in one way or another were also targered.

The death of Igarashi is still unsolved.

The Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses, William Nygaard, was also shot three times on his back on 11 October 1993. He reportedly survived the shooting but spent months in the hospital recovering. The shooters were never caught.

Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was beaten and attacked with a knife by a man who said he was Iranian at his home in Milan and sustained critical injuries on his neck, chest, and hands.

 (APA/AFP via Getty Images)
(APA/AFP via Getty Images)

But days later, the Italian law enforcement ruled out any connection between the assault and Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses.

In 1993, Islamic militants set fire to a hotel in eastern Turkey in a plot to kill author Aziz Nesin, who translated this book into the Turkish language.

In 1993, while Mr Nesin was attending a symposium in the conservative eastern city of Sivas, one of his remarks was leaked and the senior author became the target of an unparalleled barrage of hate.

Hundreds of Islamists came out of mosques and gathered in the city’s central plaza, where they stoned police barriers and governmental structures. They flashed arms and shouted Islamic slogans as their numbers grew throughout the day. An enraged Muslim mob set fire to a hotel in eastern Turkey where Mr Nesin had sought shelter.

Crowds around the hotel also made it difficult for the fire services to contain the incident.

Mr Nesin was forced to flee using a fire department ladder as the rescue crews arrived. He was treated for minor injuries and transported out of the state after escaping from the hotel in a police van. However, at least 35 individuals were killed and 60 were injured.

Mr Rushdie was stabbed on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state on Friday just as he was about to give a lecture.

He suffered serious injuries and is in hospital but has been taken off the ventilator and is now talking.

The man accused of stabbing Rushdie pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault.

Follow our live blog about this incident here.