Hitoshi Igarashi

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Hitoshi Igarashi
Hitoshi Igarashi.jpg
BornJune 10, 1947
DiedJuly 12, 1991(1991-07-12) (aged 44)
Tsukuba, Ibaraki
Notable worksTranslation of The Satanic Verses
SpouseMasako Igarashi [ja]

Hitoshi Igarashi (五十嵐 一, Igarashi Hitoshi, 10 June 1947 – 12 July 1991) was a Japanese scholar of Arabic and Persian literature and history and the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses. He was murdered in the wake of fatwas issued by Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for the death of the book's author and "those involved in its publication."

Early life and education[edit]

Igarashi was born in 1947.[1] He completed his doctoral programme in Islamic art at the University of Tokyo in 1976, and was research fellow at the Royal Academy of Iran until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.


Igarashi was an associate professor of comparative Islamic culture at the University of Tsukuba.[2] He translated Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine and Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses[3] and wrote books on Islam, including The Islamic Renaissance and Medicine and Wisdom of the East.[4]


In 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, calling for the death of "the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur'an" and in March 1991 (3 months before Igarashi's death) issued a further fatwa and multimillion-dollar bounty for the death of "any of those involved in its publication who are aware of its content".[5] After the issuing of these fatwas, Igarashi was stabbed repeatedly in the face and arms by an unknown assailant and died. His body was found on 12 July 1991 in his office at the University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.[1][4]

In 2006, the case was closed without having determined any individual suspects.[citation needed] Kenneth M. Pollack alleged in The Persian Puzzle that the attack was a covert operation by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.[citation needed] In 2010, Bungeishunjū reported a rumor[citation needed] circulating among the Japanese immigration authority that a young and wealthy Bangladeshi committed the murder then flew back to his home country the next day, before it was discovered. According to the unverified rumor, the Japanese government has refrained from applying for the extradition of the suspect from Bangladesh due to fears of inflaming anger over the Satanic Verses controversy.


  1. ^ a b "Hitoshi Igarashi (1947-1991)". Fukimimi. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  2. ^ Helm, Leslie (13 July 1991). "Translator of 'Satanic Verses' Slain". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. ^ "One person's story". OMID. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b Weismann, Steven R. (13 June 1991). "Japanese Translator of Rushdie Book Found Slain". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  5. ^ Jomhuri Eslami, 1991, March 16