Satanic Verses, Iraqi Version


Published in German daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, 16. April 2010
Source (German):
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

The life of a Kurdish citizen who translated writings of Salman Rushdie is in danger

Barmak Behdad is a Kurd, a journalist, and a translator. He left Iran – the country of his birth – nine years ago. He hoped to be able to lead a freer life in Northern Iraq. “The government here is said to be more secular and not religious”, says Behdad. Now, however, the 34-year old does no longer feel safe in the Kurdish region of Iraq after he dared to translate Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” into Kurdish.

The Kurdish newpaper Khalk, published in Suleymaniya in Iraq, had released a first part of his translation in January, and announced the publication of the next part. This, however, did not happen. All copies of the following issue of the newspaper were confiscated from the kiosks by the police. Several Kurdish websites reported that on 8. March shots were fired at the editor in chief. The man survived.

Since this attack took place, Behdad hardly ever dares to leave his hiding place. In a phone call with Süddeutsche Zeitung he talked of massive threats against him, such as several phone calls from the Iranian embassy. Islamists in Erbil had staged demonstrations in protest against the publication of his translation. Mullahs in Erbil and Suleymaniya have issued death threats against the translator. Meanwhile, he has turned to several Western consulates in the Kurdish region, among them the German consulate, but he was not given any protection. They referred him to the UNHCR, the refugee organization of the United Nations, where he was met with the “reproachful” question why he translated Salman Rushdie’s work in the first place. Barmak Behdad says he wanted to elucidate his people, since he is convinced that the clerics in Kurdistan never actually read Salman Rushdie’s “masterpiece”.


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