On the anniversary of the first fatwa (religious injunction) to assassinate the author of “The Satanic Verses” in 1989, a new fatwa has been issued, with a bounty of $600,000 for killing Rushdie. The Independent newspaper of London attributes the threat by 40 state-run Iranian media outlets to the state-run Fars News Agency.
That bounty would be in addition to the $3 million pledged in February 1989 by the Ayatollah Khomeini. After he condemned the author, along with anyone associated with the book’s publication, as blasphemous, one translator was murdered, another translator was stabbed and the novel’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times, according to The Independent.
Rushdie spent years in hiding but emerged to continue writing prize-winning novels. In 2006, Rushdie told Bill Moyers that to bend a knee to God or man is “reprehensible” and that he is a “hard-line atheist,” uninterested in any limits on what “we can understand and say and therefore be.”
He wrote the memoirlike novel, published in 2012, about an author condemned to death by a fatwa. The New York Times, in its review of “Joseph Anton: A Memoir,” said it showed how that original death decree “would come to be seen by some as an early signal of a clash of absolutes that would lead up to 9/11 and into our tinderbox present — of the continuing struggle between religious belief in the immutable word of God on one hand and secular faith in the unconditional right of free speech on the other.”
In October, Rushdie will deliver the first Eudora Welty Lecture, named for the late Southern novelist, according to The Washington Post,. The prize lecture, which rewards Rushdie with a $20,000 honorarium, is scheduled for the Washington National Cathedral.