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Censored: 5 plays and novels banned around the globe

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2. The Satanic Verses

Portrayals of the prophet Muhammad perceived as blasphemous by many Muslims have generated tension and violence in the past. A Saudi blogger received threats and faces a possible death sentence for tweets on the prophet’s birthday that were deemed apostate and atheist, and in 2005 Muslims responded to a cartoon of the prophet in European newspapers with violent protests.

Literature is no exception when it comes to the respect that Muslims expect for the prophet. Award-winning author Salman Rushdie’s magical-realist novel “The Satanic Verses” was banned upon its release in all Arab states, plus India, Pakistan, and South Africa. The ban was a response to Mr. Rushdie’s depiction of Islam, and a character, described by The New York Times as “a businessman turned prophet named Mahound – a figure Muslim critics regard as a thinly and perversely disguised representation of the Prophet Mohammed.”

Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on Rushdie in 1989, calling for his death. It still stands more than 20 years later.

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