Rushdie has spoken against the government of Narendra Modi, which is violently suppressing Muslim and Christian minorities. When Rushdie was knifed in upstate New York, the very thin-skinned right-wing government of India did not issue a statement of support or indignation until almost two weeks after the attack.
This capacity to shape the public consciousness should give media practitioners pause. Journalists and editors have a penchant, for example, of adding contextual paragraphs explaining the background to breaking news events to their audience that tend to fall back on cliches and accepted conventional wisdom. This has the effect of shaping the overall narrative around an event before all the evidence has come to the fore.
Since the attack on the novelist, Iran’s newspapers have kept up a steady stream of invective against Rushdie. To understand why Tehran persists in criticizing Rushdie even after the death of Khomeini, it is essential to understand where the fatwa sits in its current identity.