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.
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:
- In 1990 the Colombian FARC killed four Ecuadorean soldiers and kidnapped another 14 near the border between the two countries;
- In 2002 Finnish police detained four individuals, three of them teenagers, in connection with the bombing at the Myyrmnni shopping mall that killed seven people and wounded as many as 100. The bombmaker is believed to have been a 19-year old who died in the blast and who belonged to a Finnish Internet discussion group that shared bomb-making techniques known as ”Forum for Home Chemistry;”
- At least six people were killed and 29 wounded in a series of bombings in the southern Philippines over two days in attacks blamed on either Jemaah Islamiyah or Abu Sayyaf;
- In 2007 Hindu terrorists killed three people and wounded another 17 at a Sufi shrine in the Indian state of Rajasthan;
- In 2009 14 people were killed and 50 wounded by a car bomb at a hospital in Iraq’s Anbar province; and
- In 2016 14 Shia Muslims marking the holy day of Ashura were killed in a mosque in Kabul.