TOKYO -- The Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses,' a book that earned its author and everyone connected with it a death sentence from outraged Muslims, was stabbed to death Friday, police said.
Hitoshi Igarashi, 44, was at least the third person involved with the book, which Muslims consider blasphemous, to be attacked since its initial publication in 1989.
Igarashi's body was found early Friday by a cleaning woman in a building on the campus of rural Tsukuba University where he taught modern languages and culture. Police said he was stabbed in several places, including the face, late Thursday or early Friday.
Police refused to speculate on a connection between Igarashi's translation of the book and his death.
Rushdie went into hiding Feb. 14, 1989, after the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran put a bounty on his head and called on Muslims around the world to kill the Indian-born London writer so 'no one ever again would dare' blaspheme Islam.
The death sentence also embraced all those involved in the publication of the book who were aware of its content.
'The Satanic Verses' is about two Indian immigrants who fit into neither British nor Indian culture. Moslem fundamentalists believe the novel is blasphemous and object to its implication that the Koran was written by the prophet Mohammed, and is not God's word.
The novel was banned in Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa and Iran.
Igarashi told an interviewer he began receiving crank calls after his translation was published in 1990 but shrugged them off because he believed he had done nothing wrong, Kyodo news service reported. He said he translated the book because it was worth doing.
Kyodo also reported the Italian promoter of Igarashi's translation was attacked by a Pakistani during a Tokyo news conference on Feb. 13, 1990.
And in Milan, Italy, Ettore Capriolo, 61, a languages scholar who translated 'Satanic Verses' into Italian for the Mondadori publishers, was stabbed July 3 by a man who said he was an Iranian.
The assailant, who remains at large, punched Capriolo and stabbed him about 10 times with a small knife in the neck, arm and chest. Capriolo was not seriously hurt and has been released from the Milan Polyclinic.
Capriolo said his attacker phoned him about 10 days before the attack and said he was an attache at the Iranian Embassy in Rome and wanted help in translating a theatrical work into English.
The scholar said they met in his apartment for about 30 minutes, during which the man asked him for Rushdie's address. Capriolo said he did not know it and was attacked as the man turnd to leave his apartment.
Capriolo was taken to the hospital by his wife when she returned from shopping.