Ankur Chatterjee: British novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage during a New York event yesterday and is now on ventilator. Because of his controversial writings, the author had previously been the target of a fatwa, pushing him to go into hiding.
People rushed to Salman Rushdie’s aid when he was stabbed at the event in Chautauqua County, according to video footage from the event.
Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey, was identified as the perpetrator of the attack by New York state police. “The reason for the attack is unknown,” police stated.
Several authors and artists denounced the incident and wished Salman Rushdie a speedy recovery.
The author of “Go Back To Where You Came From” Wajahat Ali tweeted, “Unhinged men wanting to police the world through violence. Salman Rushdie stabbed today. FBI attacked yesterday. I fear these examples of violence will only keep escalating with polarization, disinformation and extremism going mainstream.”
Author William Dalrymple said, “A terrible day for literature, for freedom of speech and for authors everywhere. Poor poor Salman: I pray he’s not hurt and recovers quickly,” he stated.
“I hope Salman Rushdie is okay,” commented Stephen King, author of several thriller and horror novels.
“If he is attacked, anyone who is critical of Islam can be attacked. I am worried,” tweeted novelist Taslima Nasreen, who has been living in exile for nearly three decades following the publication of her book “Lajja” which made her vulnerable to death threats and violent criticisms in Bangladesh.
Javed Akhtar, a lyricist, denounced the attack on Salman Rushdie and urged the authorities to take stern action against the perpetrator, “I condemn the barbaric attack on Salman Rushdie by some fanatic. I hope that NY police and the court will take the strongest action possible against the attacker,” he tweeted.
Salman Rushdie shot to fame after winning the Booker Prize for his novel “Midnight Children” in 1981. However, he got associated with infamy after the publication of “The Satanic Verses”. The book which was banned in Iran by the Islamic theocracy in 1988 after numerous Muslims disapproved of the book’s blasphemous content. The ‘fatwa’ against him by the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini has been followed by multiple other ‘fatwas’ which meant grave threats to his life and wellbeing.
Mr. Rushdie now lives in New York and is a champion for free expression, most notably launching a vigorous defence of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo when its staff was gunned down by Islamists in Paris.
Threats and boycotts against Rushdie’s attendance at literary events persist, and his knighthood in 2007 triggered demonstrations in Iran and Pakistan, where a government minister claimed that the honour bestowed upon him justified suicide bombings.
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