“The Satanic Verses”, which led to Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa condemning Salman Rushdie to death, is a work of fiction. However, the incident evoked in this novel and from which its title is inspired, refers to a proven historical fact, mentioned both in the Koran and in the main books of the Sira, the chronicles of the life and words of the Prophet of Islam.
In his novel, Salman Rushdie devotes to the incident of the ‘‘satanic verses’’ – an indisputable historical fact that the Koran evokes, without detour or ambiguity (Verse 52, Sura 22) – the second chapter of the novel entitled Mahound.
Like Salman Rushdie, I think that “if I were asked to give one short sentence about religion, I would say: I am against it”! Not because the problem is religious faith itself, but because “from the beginning, men have used God to justify the unjustifiable”.
Like Salman Rushdie, I consider that “freedom of expression is the whole, the whole story”, that it “is life itself”, that “without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist”.
We must always take fundamentalists at their word. The ones they say to kill. The ones they forbid others to say. Hadi Matar, the man who tried to assassinate Salman Rushdie on 12 August, was driven by the words of death. Death is the true empire of Islamism. Salman Rushdie, on the other hand, is driven by the words of life. The dagger of the American-born Lebanese fundamentalist, admirer of Khomeini and Hezbollah, was to drive his words down his throat and into all his organs.
Two hundred intellectuals and civil society activists, as well as some thirty associations, in the Maghreb and in the North African diaspora in Europe, have made public a petition denouncing the assassination attempt against Salman Rushdie, entitled ‘’We refuse to allow the crime to be committed in our name’’.
Here is the full verbatim:
“Religious radicalism radiates a kind of ‘glamour’. Give a Kalashnikov and a black uniform to a penniless, jobless youth and suddenly you empower the one who feels vulnerable and disadvantaged.” These words are from the writer Salman Rushdie, who is between life and death at the time of writing. They reflect the immense insight this man has into his contemporaries. Threatened with death for more than 30 years, Salman Rushdie has built his work on the burning embers of an end that he did not imagine was impossible at the hand of Man.
In September 1988, Jean-Claude Buhrer, a senior reporter for Le Monde, was travelling in India when the writer Salman Rushdie published his novel “The Satanic Verses”. “The reaction was immediate from the Shiites in India. They immediately launched a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, calling for his death,” recalls the journalist. Jean-Claude Buhrer. He immediately called his newspaper… which declined his offer of an article. Presumably, the importance of the subject escaped the attention of the famous Parisian daily newspaper.