The Fatwa: Salman’s Story

Director: Alan Yentob
UK | 2013 | Documentary
Run Time: 81 minutes
Film source: Jill Nichols
Additional info: US Premiere

The Fatwa: Salman's Story

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Rushdie’s 1988 book The Satanic Verses, inspired in part by the life of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, was seen as blasphemous by some conservative Muslims and prompted the former spiritual leader of Iran to condemn Rushdie to death. This fascinating BBC film takes us through many of the events described in Salman Rushdie’s latest book – Joseph Anton: A Memoir. Between the narration taken straight from the language of the book, are interviews, news clips, images, and contemporary footage of the places featured in Rushdie’s story. The overall effect is the sense of traveling along with Rushdie through his story from the first moment he heard about the fatwa to his eventual freedom from police protection and the Iranian government’s death threat. We are reminded of the circumstances surrounding the publication of The Satanic Verses, including film clips showing the riots which took place in response to the book and the book burning. Rushdie is fascinating about the role of writers in society: “An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship — it is a crime against our nature as human beings”.