The Book Burners

The Book Burners

Salman Rushdie, the fatwa, and the consequences for us all


In 1989, the literary world was rocked by an unprecedented event: Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Revolutionary Iran, issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie's book was considered by many Muslims to be blasphemy for its depiction of Mohammed, and Khomeini had just ordered Rushdie's death. The book was banned in several countries and led to attacks against those involved in its publication. Hanif Kureishi called the fatwa "one of the most significant events in postwar literary history".

In Fatwa, Chloe Hadjimatheou and Mobeen Azhar tell the hidden story of the fatwa - the forces which led to the death sentence and the consequences for all of us. Covers a 20-year period from 1979 to 1999, they speak to extraordinary voices from often overlooked British communities to explore race relations in Britain, identity, free speech and the connection between the fatwa and contemporary violent jihad.

Also included is an interview with Salman Rushdie three years after the fatwa, Life after The Satanic Verses, in which the author talks about his life and work with Christopher Bigsby. Finally in The Book Burners: Salman Rushdie, Mike Wooldridge hears from Muslims who protested against The Satanic Verses twenty years after the fatwa - what do they think it achieved?

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

About the authors

Chloe Hadjimatheou

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Mobeen Azhar

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