Novelist Salman Rushdie, for years the target of Islamist death threats, has been stabbed repeatedly on stage while speaking at a literary event in New York State. His agent said he is now on a ventilator and unable to speak, may lose one eye, the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver stabbed and damaged. He is one of the most celebrated and successful British authors, with his second novel, Midnight’s Children, winning the Booker Prize in 1981. His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, brought about international turmoil. Many Muslims argued the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad was blasphemous. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding, under police protection.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini broke off relations with the UK in protest and issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination in 1989. In Mumbai, Rushdie’s hometown, 12 people were killed during Muslim rioting, the British embassy in Tehran was stoned, and a $3m (£2.5m) bounty was put on the author’s head. The book needless to say became a best-seller.
Rushdie was born 19 June 1947 2.30am Mumbai, India, was sent to the UK aged 14, studied at Cambridge University, became a UK citizen, allowed his Muslim faith to lapse, worked briefly as an actor and advertising copywriter, while writing novels. He has been married four times, and has two children.
The death sentence against Rushdie stopped being formally backed by Iran’s government in 1998 and in recent years the author has enjoyed a new level of freedom. But threats to his life always lingered under the surface, and Iran’s current supreme leader – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – once said the fatwa against Rushdie was “fired like a bullet that won’t rest until it hits its target”.
Rushdie has a New Moon in communicative Gemini conjunct an outspoken and provocative Uranus; with Venus also in social butterfly Gemini trine Neptune. He has the bleak, tough-minded Saturn Pluto in Leo of his generation in his domestic, family and childhood roots 4th house. He was born just two months before the tumultuous partition of India and Pakistan which became the subject of Midnight’s Children. His Pluto is in a pushily-confident square to a 7th house Jupiter in Scorpio which opposes a determined and stubborn Mars in Taurus.
All of his marriages have been short-lived so his 7th house Jupiter hasn’t brought stability to his close relationships.
When the fatwa was declared on 14 February 1989 his Solar Arc Sun and Moon were both conjunct his 4th house Saturn which would be a considerable setback and sobering moment. In the scary, dangerous years following his Solar Arc New Moon moved across his Saturn/Pluto midpoint and then Pluto as he hid from public view. In the immediate aftermath his finances improved considerably so not all negative.
At the moment his Jupiter at 18 Scorpio caught the recent tr Uranus, Mars, North Node opposition which is shaking up his life. Jupiter on its own would not cause too many problems but since it ties into both Pluto and Mars the reverberations would be risky.
He’ll have an undermining phase ahead, assuming he pulls through, with tr Neptune square his Uranus this year and then his New Moon with assorted midpoints also being weakened though he will have one upbeat influence in 2023/24.
His temperament wasn’t one that was easy to warm to and however repellent the attacks on him, there was always a slight suspicion that he set out to be provocative and it blew up in his face. His self-defeating 10th harmonic and 16th harmonic are both strong.
Which isn’t to say there should not have been a tougher response in the UK to hard-liners repeating the fatwa. Racial and cultural over-sensitivities blunted what should have been a flat refusal to accept outrageous attacks, verbal and otherwise. A good deal of the rot started around that time of not tackling such issues head on. As Joan Bakewell remarked at the time it is the problem for a basically tolerant society when it takes in intolerant elements. It doesn’t know what to do with them. Being laissez-faire about fanaticism is a slippery slope.
Add On: The attacker Hadi Matar, born 12 September 1997 (CNN), with Hezbollah sympathies has his Pluto conjunct Rushdie’s ‘bull in a china shop’ South Node in Sagittarius so at the very least will anchor him down though there may also be a sense in trying to control Rushdie’s words and message. Rushdie’s Gemini North Node highlights his ability to communicate. Matar’s Pluto squares his Mercury so he’ll have a closed-minded and dogmatic/fanatical mindset.
Matar’s Mars at 18 degrees Scorpio is exactly conjunct Rushdie’s Jupiter with both being triggered by the tr Uranus opposition at the moment. Both of them oddly enough have their Mars in hard aspect to Jupiter natally which can be opportunistic or a ‘holy warrior’ who is inclined to justify aggressive responses with a moralising excuse.
Their relationship chart has tr Pluto exactly conjunct the composite South Node at the moment – evoking a primitive response.
There’s usually a nodal connection between victim and perpetrator, even where it is random.