“To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”-Rushdie

In early 1988 The USSR was preforing nuclears tests in Kazakhstan, George Bush sr was being questioned for his role in the Iran Contra affair,Anthony Kennedy was appointed to the US supreme Court and heavy rains killed hundreds in Rio de Janiero Brazil. That summer Who Framed Roger Rabbit was playing in movie theaters in the US and over South Africa the government banned the anti-apartheid film Cry Freedom. In Burma the 8888 uprising began and in Jamaica Hurricane Gilbert devastated the island.

svbookIn September of that year The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie was published in the UK. India was the first country to react and had used the Importation Act of 1962 to ban importation of the book into the country. The book itself was not technically banned, but it was not legal to bring the book into the country.

On October 19th, Britain banned broadcast interviews with IRA members, but on the 20th the British government was facing pressure from the Union of Muslim Organizations to also ban The Satanic Verses because of blasphemy. Over in the US Viking Press was receiving  what they described as “tens of thousands of menacing letters” demanding a cease of publication. In November of that year the Grand Sheik of Egypt, Al-Azhar called on Islamic organizations in Britain to attempt to prevent the novels distribution and by the end of the year the book had been banned in South Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Qatar.

To end the year a mass book burning rally was organized in Bolton England.

“Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.”-Ray Bradbury


Bolton is an industrial town in Greater Manchester in Northwest England. On December 2nd, 1988 it’s estimated that 7,000 of the city’s 10,000 Muslims organized a protest over The Satanic Verses complete with a book burning. Although this event did not receive much media attention, it was the first public book burning concerning The Satanic Verses.


1988 ended without any recorded deaths or injuries surrounding the book, however 1989 was about to become a bit bloody.


Pipes, Daniel. “The Ayatollah, the Novelist, and the West.” Commentary, vol. 87, no. 6, 1989., pp. 9http://search.proquest.com.

Decter, Midge. “The Rushdiad.” Commentary, vol. 87, no. 6, 1989., pp. 18http://search.proquest.com..