Salman Rushdie’s son Zafar said for 11 years in the shadow of fatwa: ‘It made me who I am’
He claimed that having the cops always around seemed amusing at first, but the looming threat that was a constant presence soon overwhelmed him.
Salman Rushdie’s eldest son, Zafar Rushdie, is a 40-year-old British-American novelist who was born in India. He was nine years old when the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa against his father. Rushdie and his first wife Clarissa Luard gave birth to him in 1979. For eleven long years he had to live in fear of the terrifying order. He replied: “I don’t wish it hadn’t happened when I was asked about it. It shaped who I am now.
Zafar has often spoken about his time with his father. He once remarked that having cops always around seemed amusing at first, but the ominous threat that was always present soon overwhelmed it. “In the beginning I liked the fatwa. When I came home one day at the age of nine, the police were there. It was really cool to be around these big guys with guns. Zafar told the Evening Standard: “But I learned soon enough to realize there was a big thing going on and it wasn’t good.
Rushdie’s autobiography Joseph Anton is dedicated to his sons Zafar and Milan Rushdie and their mothers Clarissa Luard and Elizabeth West. The author’s kindness and concern for his children is strongly expressed in the text. At one point he describes Zafar as a “wonderful youngster”. Zafar, who now owns his own public relations firm, had a difficult upbringing: he was nine when the fatwa began, fifteen when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and nineteen when she died.
I don’t remember ever being scared, Zafar once said. You weren’t sure what to be afraid of. When I first started calling there was a time when the person on the other end of the phone said they knew where I lived and was coming to kill me. You would still find the number even if we were removed from the directory. He told the Evening Standard: “That was worrying. “When I got home, I contacted my mom and said, ‘What is this?'” Then it took another 10 years to figure out what was happening and the best way to address it, he continued.
On July 20, 2022 in Barnes, England, Natalie Rushdie and Zafar Rushdie attend the funeral of Dame Deborah James at St Mary’s Church. Former principal Dame Deborah James adopted the online nickname “Bowelbabe” after her colon cancer diagnosis in 2016. She later rose to fame as the host of a well-known podcast and Instagram account, where she kept fans updated on her medical advances and helped raise £7.42million for cancer research. Deborah died on June 28, 2022.
Zafar was escorted by 12 police cars when he arrived at The Hall, his preparatory school. Although he never had police protection at home, he was never allowed to meet his father in public, according to the Evening Standard. The saddest thing, in my opinion, is that you have to get used to lying. Where are you this weekend my friends would ask? When I hung out with dad, I would say, “Oh, I hang out with my mom.” It wasn’t outright lies; Rather, they were deceptive lies, he claimed.
Rushdie once stated in an interview with Big Issue in 2016 that being a good parent to his boys, especially Zafar, is very important to him. “He was nine years old when he did that [the fatwa] began, and it shaped and shaped his entire childhood. I tried to explain to him what was going on, afraid that just hearing about it would scare him. Of course I was concerned for his safety. According to the author, although his mother and I tried our best to give him a reasonably normal childhood, it was a very trying time for him.
In 2020, Zafar and Natalie, a trained jazz singer, welcomed their first child, a girl. According to Hello Magazine, “Zafar and Natalie both hope to get Salman to help him with his homework when the time comes.”