The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On

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The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On


You may be thinking that the battles over Salman Rushdie’s novel – in the course of which Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death sentence on Rushdie for a work that was felt to disparage Islam – were a long time ago. Thirty years later, haven’t we moved on? Not necessarily.

Mobeen Azhar’s excellent look back at the conflict that raged over the book has shocking scenes. He visits Bradford to see if passers-by today remember the book and its impact. A man runs up, seizes Azhar’s hardback copy and starts ripping it up while shouting insults. Another intervenes and warns Azhar he has no right to come asking such questions. Azhar, a Muslim himself, is shaken, and the programme as a whole shows how the controversy set off a chain reaction – radicalising both young Muslims and British nationalists – that we still live with.


in 1988, the publication of The Satanic Verses - the controversial book by Salman Rushdie - sparked a culture war in Britain. Thirty years on, broadcaster and journalist Mobeen Azhar returns to Yorkshire, where the protest first began, to examine the lasting effect the book has had on his community, and to meet people often ignored by the mainstream media whose lives were for ever affected by the book. Mobeen hears from a range of people who were affected by the so called 'Rushdie Affair' - from the men who took an early stand against the book and organised the original protests, to a writer who wrestled at the time of the book's publication with the complex questions of free speech and her own religious beliefs, and a former member of the National Front who claims that the furore over the book became a recruiting tool for them.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Mobeen Azhar
Director Steven Grandison
Executive Producer Yonni Usiskin