Salman Rushdie, and the Censorship-to-Violence Pipeline

On the rabid intolerance of silencing speech

Joe Garza
The Reckless Muse
Published in
3 min readApr 16, 2024

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Author Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses,” was so controversial that it not only led to numerous assassination attempts on Rushdie (the most recent of which involved a knife attack that left him without the use of his right eye), but led to the murder of his Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi; the stabbing of his Italian translator Ettore Capriolo; the shooting of his Norwegian publisher William Nygaard; and the Sivas massacre, in which a mob caused the fire of the Madimak Hotel that killed 37 people.

This needless violence was motivated not by speech, but by the impulse to silence it.

After “The Satanic Verses” was released, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ruhollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against Rushdie, prompting the Islamic extremists behind the many attacks against the author and those associated with the novel’s publication.

None of this has stopped Rushdie from speaking out about the importance of free speech, and he has risen to the rank of general in the current culture war in the fight against censorship.

Even after the knife attack that nearly took his life in 2022, the author holds fast to his freedom of speech principles. He recently appeared on…

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