“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory… In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.”-FDR
On January 14th, 1989 a Muslim led protest was organized in Bradford England to burn The Satanic Verses. The burning party was smaller than that of the one in Bolton that ended the year of 1988, but it received more coverage. This prompted the IDC to demand that Penguin Books “apologize, withdraw the novel, destroy any copies and never reprint it.”
In February of that year the book finally began circulating bookstores and libraries in the United States.
However, across the ocean over in Islamabad things were becoming violent. On February 12th it’s estimated that 10,000 Muslims attacked the American Cultural Center yelling “Allahu Akbar” and “American Dogs” to protest the book. 100 were injured, and 6 people were killed. The following day in Kashmir another person was killed and another 100 injured during more anti-Rushdie riots.
To your left you’ll find the very pleasant lookingAyatollah Khomeini. Khomeini died on June 3rd, 1989 at the age of 87. But just a few months prior to his death, on Valentines Day that year, he issued the following fatwa on Salman Rushdie.
I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the “Satanic Verses” book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I ask all the Muslims to execute them wherever they find them.
On the 16th, Rushdie was entered into the protection program by the British government as the bounty on his head was raised. Due to the violent protests occurring around the world and threats of firebombs, bookstores such as Waldenbooks and Barnes and Noble started pulling the book from their shelves.
On the 24th, over in Bombay, 12 more people died and 40 were wounded in more Muslim organized protests. Over in the Bronx the offices of a weekly newspaper was firebombed after they issued their defense of the book.
However in Berkeley CA, Cody’s books, and in Portland Oregon Powell’s stood strong against threats of violence and kept the book shelved.
In March of that year, punishments and fines were set in place for anyone in possession of or anyone caught distributing the book in many countries. The book became banned by the governments of what was then Zanzibar and several other nations including; Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Throughout the year numerous protests took place across the world including one in Parliament Square in London with anywhere from 15,000-20,000 Muslims in attendance threatening more violence if the book was not banned. A man in Central London accidentally blew himself up while preparing a bomb intended for Rushdie. The end of the year slowed down, but the blood had already been shed. 1989 was the single bloodiest year of the Rushdie Affair, however it was far from the end.
Death Toll: 20
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.