Salman Rushdie Attack Recalls Murder of His Japanese Translator

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TOKYO — The attack 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 dying at age 44 that July at Tsukuba College, 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 revealed 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 dying had left him feeling “extraordinarily distressed.”

The police in Japan mentioned on the time that they’d no particular proof linking the assault to “The Satanic Verses.” However information reviews mentioned that the novel’s Japanese writer had acquired dying 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 College after a day of instructing. His son, Ataru Igarashi, instructed a reporter years later that he had been engaged on translating “The Canon of Drugs,” 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 coated in slash marks, suggesting that he had tried to defend himself throughout the assault, the Shukan Asahi journal reported.

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

Hypothesis concerning the killing circulated within the Japanese information media for years. Essentially the most outstanding concept, reported in 1998 by the journal Each day Shincho, was that investigators had briefly recognized a Bangladeshi pupil at Tsukuba College as a suspect, however that they’d stood down amid strain from prime officers, who anxious concerning the potential implications for Japan’s relations with Islamic nations. No strong proof of that concept ever emerged.

Mr. Igarashi would be the solely particular person to be killed due to their work with Mr. Rushdie. A number of others survived makes an attempt on their lives, together with Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of “The Satanic Verses,” who was stabbed in his house in Milan days earlier than the assault on Mr. Igarashi.

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

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

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

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

The dearth of progress within the case has introduced sharp criticism of the police investigation, which targeted principally on private motives, reasonably than political or non secular ones, in keeping with a 2008 documentary by Odd Isungset, a journalist who additionally wrote a e book concerning the assault.

In accordance with Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK, one of many suspects is a Lebanese citizen, Khaled Moussawi, who had been questioned throughout the preliminary investigation. Though the Norwegian police have by no means launched that title, Mr. Moussawi, who returned to Lebanon in 1996, confirmed to NRK that he was one of those charged.

The opposite suspect, in keeping 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 situation worldwide arrest warrants for the suspects.

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

As for Mr. Igarashi’s killing, the statute of limitations within the case expired in 2006, producing a basic 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 maybe that will have spurred a dialogue on freedom of faith and speech,” mentioned Sachi Sakanashi, a researcher on the Institute of Vitality Economics in Tokyo who makes a speciality of Iranian politics. “Nevertheless, that didn’t occur.”

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

However final yr, police officers instructed the Mainichi Shimbun that they have been persevering with to research Mr. Igarashi’s killing within the hope that the statute of limitations won’t apply if a perpetrator turned out to have fled the nation.

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

“When instances change,” she instructed the Mainichi Shimbun, “the potential of a sudden breakthrough gained’t be zero.”

Hikari Hida reported from Tokyo, Mike Ives from Seoul.

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