Arjun Mishra

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Professor Michael Ebner

Honors Reader

Professor Christopher R. Kyle

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

History | Other History


This paper studies the Rushdie Affair, which gripped the world from 1988-1990 and at its height included a death sentence from the Ayatollah of Iran to a British subject. The Rushdie Affair was a series of events that began with the publication of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, a critically acclaimed British-Indian novelist. The situation spiraled out of control from there, as Muslims throughout the world claimed offense to what they perceived as insults to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The Rushdie Affair came to be characterized by violent riots in Pakistan and India, censures throughout the world, and escalating tensions between European nations and their Muslim immigrants. This was apparent in Britain, where mostly South Asian Muslim immigrants protested the publication of The Satanic Verses with demonstrations, arsons, and demands the book be banned. The controversy persisted for months and reached a climax when threats on Rushdie’s life sent him into underground police protection. The Rushdie Affair seemed to make it clear that there was an unbridgeable chasm between the Muslim immigrants and European society. This paper also studies immigration to Britain and Britain’s changing society in the 1960s, arguing that the immigrants were arriving in a transformed society and that they were blamed for various economic and social problems. It also studies recent events that share resemblances to the Rushdie Affair, such as the Danish Cartoon Affair of 2005-2006 and The Jewel of Medina controversy of 2009 in Britain. Both the cartoons and the book were considered to be gratuitously offensive to British Muslims; the cartoons were not re-printed in Britain and the book was delayed printing until after any controversy subsided. It seems that these events have contributed to the debates on free speech, free societies, and the place of Muslim immigrants in Britain and Europe.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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