When it comes to revenge, there is no statute of limitations. This is what Salman Rushdie discovered last week. After evading injustice for so many years, the acclaimed-despised, celebrated-hated, subversive-subverted British-Kashmiri author had finally let down his guard, only for the long arm of the lawless to catch up with him. Decades after the release of “The Satanic Verses,” Rushdie remains one of the most wildly and widely misunderstood contemporary writers in the English language.
As a lover of literature and an advocate of freedom of expression, I decided to reread the book that spawned the fatwa, both as an act of solidarity with an artist whose life was almost cut short and to clear up the myriad misconceptions surrounding Rushdie and his novel. As a committed believer in and defender of free speech and freedom of conscience, I see no problem with Rushdie or any other person insulting or even mocking a religion or philosophy. No system of beliefs is so sacred that it is beyond criticism or ridicule.
Hadi Matar, the California-born 24-year-old who leapt on stage and repeatedly stabbed the writer, disagreed. The Lebanese-American who has expressed sympathies with the Iranian regime and admiration for the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as well as contempt for Rushdie appears to have been so angered by the author’s fourth novel, which was published in 1988, that he decided to carry out the death sentence against Rushdie proclaimed in the now-infamous fatwa that Khomeini issued the following year. [Continue reading…]