Salman Rushdie, a British Indian author and master of magical realism, gained international notoriety after becoming the victim of a fatwa that drove him into hiding and now fuels his ferocious defense of free speech.
The 75-year-old author, who was stabbed on Friday during an attack at a speaking engagement in New York state, shot to fame in 1981 with the publication of "Midnight's Children," his second book.
For its depiction of India after independence, the book received plaudits from all around the world including Britain's coveted Booker Prize.
But when his 1988 book "The Satanic Verses" generated a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for his execution by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, it garnered more attention than he could have imagined. Some Muslims viewed the book as offensive to the Prophet Mohammed.
Rushdie, an atheist who was born in India to non-practicing Muslims, was compelled to flee after a bounty was placed on his head; the bounty is still in place today. He was granted police protection by the government in Britain, where he was at school and where he made his home, following the murder or attempted murder of his translators and publishers.