A still of Salman Rushdie's cameo on Bridget Jones' Diary. He looks unimpressed.

Who is Salman Rushdie? What is he famous for? Wasn’t he in Bridget Jones’ Diary?

Salman Rushdie is recovering with severe, “life-changing” injuries after being stabbed repeatedly before a scheduled public appearance in the US state of New York over the weekend.

He was due to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution when a man ran on stage and stabbed him.

Two days after the attack, Rushdie’s son, Zafar Rushdie, said his father was well enough to be taken off a ventilator, had been able to speak and his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humor” was still intact.

Here’s a shortcut guide to Rushdie’s story, why some people wanted him dead and how that made him fodder for sitcom jokes.

Who is Salman Rushdie?

Rushdie is an author, best known for his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses — dubbed by publishing house Penguin Books as one of the most controversial books of modern times.

Rushdie has been subjected to death threats over this novel. (Supplied: Pengiun Books)

The 75-year-old was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, before moving to the UK.

He now lives in New York City as a US citizen.

Rushdie is a self-described lapse of Muslim and “hardline atheist.”

Why would someone want to kill him?

Some Muslims said The Satanic Verses contained blasphemous passages and mocked their beliefs.

The novel draws on elements of the life of Islamic Prophet Mohammed and the origin story of the Qur’an.

Theological scholar Myriam Renaud unpacked some of the criticisms in a piece for the Conversation in 2017:

Rushdie chooses a provocative name for Mohammed. The novel’s version of the Prophet is called Mahound — an alternative name for Mohammed sometimes used during the Middle Ages by Christians who considered him a devil.


In Rushdie’s book, Salman [a character in the novel]for example, attributes certain actual passages in the Qur’an that place men “in charge of women” and give men the right to strike wives from whom they “fear arrogance”, to Mahound’s sexist views.

In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa calling upon Muslims to kill Rushdie.

The British government responded by putting him under police protection, with Rushdie going into hiding for nearly a decade.

Rushdie professed his profound regret for causing distress to Muslims while he was in hiding, according to the BBC, but the fatwa remained.

While he has lived a freer existence since Iran’s then-president Mohammad Khatami said the affair was “completely finished” in 1998, there were still many who wanted him dead.

A bounty of more than $US3 million was offered for his murder.

What is he famous for?

Rushdie is an acclaimed author, with a knighthood for services to literature and a Booker Prize under his belt.