'The Satanic Verses': the story of a prize-winning novel that sparked controversy

Scott Hughes
Wednesday 14 February 1996 00:02
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26 September 1988 The Satanic Verses is published in the UK by Viking/Penguin.

8 November 1988 It wins the Whitbread Best Novel award as controversy grows.

14 January 1989 Symbolic book burnings by Muslims in Bradford.

27 January 1989 Muslims demonstrate in Hyde Park and present a petition to Penguin Books.

14 February 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran proclaims a fatwa on Salman Rushdie. A pounds 1.2m price is placed on Rushdie's life, later rising to around pounds 2m, forcing him into hiding.

2 March 1989 A "world statement" is issued by the International Rushdie Defence Committee in support of Salman Rushdie and freedom of speech.

7 March 1989 Iran breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain.

3 June 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini dies, but a British Muslim leader, Dr Kalim Siddiqui, stresses that the fatwa remains in place.

4 February 1990 Rushdie breaks his silence with an article entitled "In Good Faith" in the Independent on Sunday. He denies having committed blasphemy and states that he is not a Muslim.

28 September 1990 Iran and Britain resume diplomatic links.

30 September 1990 Rushdie's first television appearance since the fatwa, on ITV's South Bank Show.

24 December 1990 Rushdie claims to have "embraced" Islam, and says he will not publish the paperback edition or permit more translations while any risk of further offence exists.

14 February 1991 Iranian religious authorities reaffirm the fatwa, confounding Western expectations that it will be lifted.

11 July 1991 Professor Hitoshi Igarashi, a Japanese translator of the book, is stabbed to death at Tsukuba University.

15 September 1991 Rushdie makes a brief appearance in London to receive a Writers' Guild award for his children's book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

11 October 1993 William Nygaard, the Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses, is injured in a gun attack near his home in Oslo.

11 May 1994 In defiance of continued pressure to withdraw the book, The Satanic Verses is published in paperback in the UK.

5 June 1995 Iran says the fatwa cannot be revoked, but its foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, tells the BBC that "our government is not going to dispatch anybody ... to kill anybody in Europe".

7 September 1995 Rushdie speaks at a pre-publicised meeting for the first time since going into hiding. More than 500 people attend the event, "Writers Against the State", at Westminster Central Hall.

12 September 1995 Rushdie appears in Edinburgh to publicise his new book, The Moor's Last Sigh.

14 February 1996 Seventh anniversary of the fatwa.

SCOTT HUGHES

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