Salman Rushdie Attack Recalls Murder of His Japanese Translator

TOKYO — The assault on Salman Rushdie in western New York State on Friday prompted renewed curiosity in earlier assaults on individuals linked to his 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses,” together with its Japanese translator, who was killed in 1991.

The translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to demise at age 44 that July at Tsukuba University, northeast of Tokyo, the place he had been instructing comparative Islamic tradition for 5 years. No arrests have been ever made, and the crime stays unsolved.

Mr. Igarashi had translated “The Satanic Verses” for a Japanese version that was printed after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the supreme chief of Iran, had ordered Muslims to kill the Indian-born British author over the e book’s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

Mr. Rushdie, 75, who went into surgical procedure on Friday after being stabbed by an attacker in Chautauqua, N.Y., had mentioned in 1991 that information of Mr. Igarashi’s demise had left him feeling “extremely distressed.”

The police in Japan mentioned on the time that that they had no particular proof linking the assault to “The Satanic Verses.” But information studies mentioned that the novel’s Japanese writer had obtained demise threats from Islamist militants, and that Mr. Igarashi had for a time been protected by bodyguards.

The publishing home, Shinsensha, had additionally confronted protests at its Tokyo workplace in 1990, and a Pakistani citizen was arrested that yr for attempting to assault a promoter of the e book at a information convention.

Mr. Igarashi was killed as he left his workplace at Tsukuba University after a day of instructing. His son, Ataru Igarashi, informed a reporter years later that he had been engaged on translating “The Canon of Medicine,” a medieval medical textbook by the Islamic doctor and thinker Ibn Sina.

The police mentioned {that a} janitor had discovered Mr. Igarashi’s physique close to an elevator with slash wounds on his neck, face and arms. A brown leather-based bag that Mr. Igarashi had been carrying was lined in slash marks, suggesting that he had tried to defend himself in the course of the assault, the Shukan Asahi journal reported.

He was survived by his spouse, Masako Igarashi, and their two kids.

Speculation in regards to the killing circulated within the Japanese information media for years. The most outstanding concept, reported in 1998 by the journal Daily Shincho, was that investigators had briefly recognized a Bangladeshi scholar at Tsukuba University as a suspect, however that that they had stood down amid stress from prime officers, who apprehensive in regards to the potential implications for Japan’s relations with Islamic nations. No strong proof of that concept ever emerged.

Mr. Igarashi would be the solely individual to be killed as a result of of their work with Mr. Rushdie. Several others survived makes an attempt on their lives, together with Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of “The Satanic Verses,” who was stabbed in his residence in Milan days earlier than the assault on Mr. Igarashi.

In July 1993, the Turkish novelist Aziz Nesin, who had printed a translated excerpt from “The Satanic Verses” in a neighborhood newspaper, narrowly escaped demise when a crowd of militants burned down a resort in japanese Turkey the place he was staying in an try to kill him.

Mr. Nesin, who was then 78, escaped the constructing by way of a firefighters’ ladder. But 37 others — intellectuals who had gathered on the resort to debate methods of selling secularism — died within the blaze. A Turkish court docket later sentenced 33 individuals to demise for his or her roles within the assault.

In October 1993, the Norwegian writer of “The Satanic Verses,” William Nygaard, was shot 3 times outdoors his residence in Oslo. He made a full restoration and went on to reprint the e book in defiance.

In 2018, the Norwegian police filed prices within the case two days earlier than a deadline that might have foreclosed prosecution. They declined to call the suspects or specify what number of had been charged.

The lack of progress within the case has introduced sharp criticism of the police investigation, which centered principally on private motives, quite than political or spiritual ones, in accordance with a 2008 documentary by Odd Isungset, a journalist who additionally wrote a e book in regards to the assault.

According to Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK, one of the suspects is a Lebanese citizen, Khaled Moussawi, who had been questioned in the course of the preliminary investigation. Although the Norwegian police have by no means launched that identify, Mr. Moussawi, who returned to Lebanon in 1996, confirmed to NRK that he was one of these charged.

The different suspect, in accordance with reporting by Mr. Isungset and by NRK, is an Iranian diplomat who labored at his nation’s embassy in Oslo from 1989 to 1993, when he left Norway.

Halvard Helle, a lawyer for Mr. Nygaard, mentioned in an interview that two individuals had been charged within the case, together with an Iranian former diplomat. He referred to as for the police to concern worldwide arrest warrants for the suspects.

Mr. Isungset expressed doubt that the case would attain a conclusion. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this matter will ever go to court in Norway,” he mentioned.

As for Mr. Igarashi’s killing, the statute of limitations within the case expired in 2006, producing a normal sense of disappointment that there could be no closure — or reflection on what the homicide meant for the nation.

“If a perpetrator had been caught, then perhaps that would have spurred a discussion on freedom of religion and speech,” mentioned Sachi Sakanashi, a researcher on the Institute of Energy Economics in Tokyo who focuses on Iranian politics. “However, that did not happen.”

In 2009, the professor’s widow, Masako Igarashi, picked up his pockets, glasses and different possessions from a police station the place that they had lengthy been held as proof, the Shukan Asahi journal reported.

But final yr, police officers informed the Mainichi Shimbun that they have been persevering with to analyze Mr. Igarashi’s killing within the hope that the statute of limitations may not apply if a perpetrator turned out to have fled the nation.

Ms. Igarashi, a highschool principal and a scholar of comparative Japanese literature, informed the newspaper that she held out hope of discovering justice.

“When times change,” she informed the Mainichi Shimbun, “the possibility of a sudden breakthrough won’t be zero.”

Hikari Hida reported from Tokyo and Mike Ives from Seoul. Henrik Pryser Libell contributed reporting from Oslo.


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