Renowned author Salman Rushdie visited the University of California San Diego Saturday to discuss his new book, “Joseph Anton,” which is based on the false name he used when he was forced to go into hiding.
After writing his 1988 novel, “Satanic Verses,” Rushdie had a bounty on his head of more than $2 million. The controversial book sparked protests in the Muslim world and made the scribe a target.
Iran’s religious leader at the time issued a fatwa, offering a bounty for Rushdie’s head.
Even people associated with the book were attacked. One translator was even killed.
On Saturday, Rushdie spoke to nearly 500 fans gathered at UCSD about his new book and experience as a marked man.
“Joseph Anton” -- an alias taken from the first names of his personal favorite authors, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov -- chronicles what Rushdie's life was like living under constant police protection.
It also reveals how his friends – some them also writers – supported and helped him through those tough times.
But Rushdie argues that the outrage has been deliberately created by certain leaders.
He said the reason he wrote the book was to highlight the persecution faced by writers today.
“I just have felt that ever since then that what happened to me is happening to writers all over the world. Not just the Muslim world either – China, Africa, all over the place. And it's important to stand up and defend those writers wherever they're under attack,” Rushdie told NBC 7 San Diego.
Today, there is no longer a bounty on his head.
In 1998, Iran’s foreign minister said his government no longer sought to kill the man.
On Saturday in San Diego, there was very light security for Rushdie.