Today in terrorism: 11 October 1993

On this day in 1993, a publisher linked to “The Satanic Verses”, a novel by Salman Rushdie, was shot in Oslo, Norway.


Do you remember The Satanic Verses? That was a novel by the celebrated English author Salman Rushdie back in 1988. Truth be told, although I am no literary critic, it was not very good. I really tried to read it and could not get past the first few pages. I guess I am not a Salman Rushdie fan.

There were a lot of others who were not fans either. But instead of just putting the novel aside they tried to kill the author. The issue was a whole bunch of references in the book that many Muslims considered insulting, including the title itself (a nod to verses in the Quran believed to have been given to the Prophet Muhammad by the Devil to tempt him) and a part where prostitutes happen to share the same name as Muhammad’s wives.

Except that this was not seen as merely insulting: it was seen as blasphemous. Recall that for millennia the penalty for blasphemy is death, and Rushdie was the object of calls for his killing across the Muslim world, although he has survived to this day, despite the baying for blood. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a particularly scathing review: a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s head as well as any editor or publisher associated with the work of fiction.

I really tried to read it and could not get past the first few pages. I guess I am not a Salman Rushdie fan.

How prescient

On this day in 1993, a publisher linked to the novel was shot in Oslo, Norway. William Nygaard was left for dead but survived. 25 years later police pressed charges in the Nygaard shooting, just two days before the statute of limitations was set to expire in the case.

All this over a book. Go figure.

It turns out there were a lot of attacks on this day in October.

Here are a few more:

Phil Gurski

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