Why Author & Advocate Salman Rushdie Has $3 Million Bounty 

BBC Newsnight / YouTube

By Emily Matson 

CHAUTAUQUA, NY (Erie News Now) – Salman Rushdie, an author and champion of free speech, has had a $3 Million dollar bounty on his head for more than three decades now. 

While Rushdie has been a critically-acclaimed author for more than 40 years, some may not know much about him, so here’s more on his influence, worldwide. 

Salman Rushdie was the subject of controversy in 1989, when Iran’s Supreme Leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini publicly called for his assassination over his book “The Satantic Verses”, which some called blasphemous to Muslims. 

Khomeini issued a religious decree, calling for Rushdie’s death and offered a $3 Million dollar bounty, which led to the author receiving continued death threats for decades, even to this day. 

He spent about nine years in hiding, but then continued to appear publicly and advocate for free speech, “If you’re a free expression organization, if you believe in the value of free speech, then you must believe in the value of free speech that you don’t like. if you only defend free speech that conforms to your own moral framework that’s what is normally called censorship,” Rushdie once said during a PEN America event. 

And speaking freely is exactly what he about to do Friday at the Chautauqua Institution, an education center near Jamestown, before he was attacked.  

Stacey Schlosser was just about to take her seat, “The theme of the week is home. So they were talking about taking in these refugees, artists and writers that were threatened and are refugees from their countries where they were not able to have free speech and do and say what they wanted to do, and so it was going to be a conversation about that whole issue.” 

Rushdie was born in India, a novelist who combined magical realism with historical fiction, which didn’t sit well with extremists like Khomeini, who said the book insulted Islam and the prophet Mohammed. 

Rushdie’s book has been banned in Iran since 1988. 

Hadi Mattar, 24, is charged with Friday’s attack, as of Friday evening, his motive remains unclear. 

The free speech group PEN America said in a statement: “PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former president and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie… Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered.” 


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