Khomeini’s Fatwa and the Satanic Verses Controversy

The new report provides an overview of the controversy triggered by the novel “The Satanic Verses”.

After more than 30 years, an assassination attempt on Salman Rushdie last year brought the role of fatwas back into the public eye. The Austrian Fund for the Documentation of Religiously Motivated Political Extremism (Documentation Centre Political Islam) is now publishing a report on this topic under the title “The Satanic Verses Controversy”. The academic report provides an overview of the background to the controversy triggered by the novel “The Satanic Verses” and explains the significance of Khomeini’s fatwa. A corresponding call by the revolutionary leader to kill Rushdie is still folowed by the Iranian leadership today.

The publication also describes the peculiarities of the fatwa system within the Twelver Shia and the ambivalent attitude of the government in Tehran towards the Rushdie case. It also analyses the fierce global reaction to the publication of “The Satanic Verses” in the late 1980s and its consequences. The report shows how the protests were instrumentalised for political purposes and at the same time are an expression of a collectively felt identity crisis of Muslims – also in the West.

The publication can be downloaded here.

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