Jeffrey Robertson tells the story of how he hid Salman Rushdie during the fatwa

Twenty years ago this week, the Ayatollah issued a fatwa against the author of The Satanic Verses. Then I brought him into my house to hide from the assassins.

It was twenty years ago, on St Valentine’s Day, that the Ayatollah Khomeini launched the mother of all prosecutions against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and his publisher Penguin Books. Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, the Ayatollah chose to sentence first and try later—through a fatwa proclaiming the death sentence for blasphemy on all connected with publishing the book. One of its translators was in consequence murdered (“executed” as Iran preferred to say); the book was burnt at demonstrations throughout the world (twenty-two protesters were killed by police in Pakistan); and a $3 million bounty was offered for the author’s capture—alive or (preferably) dead. Soon afterwards, Salman came to stay for a short time.

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