Salman Rushdie to Write on his Brutal Attack at Literary Festival in New York, 2022

“Terrorism must not terrify us, violence must not deter us. The struggle goes on.”

– Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, one of the most well-known and controversial writers of our time, has undoubtedly played a significant role in the ongoing conversation about freedom of expression, reflecting on the difficulties faced by people who dare to express their ideas in the face of religious extremism.

Writer Salman Rushdie awarded prestigious German prize for literary work and resolve and positive attitude in the face of constant danger, 2023

The Iranian authorities issued the fatwa requiring Rushdie’s execution in 1989 and he had lived a courageously carefree life in New York for the last 20 years. But when he was speaking in front of thousands on the morning of August 12, 2022, at Chautauqua Institution in southwest New York, a young man in black with a knife climbed up on stage and repeatedly stabbed him. Due to this Rushdie has lost the sight in his right eye, and has damage to his liver and the nerves of his left hand.

Traumatised by the near-fatal stabbing, Salman Rushdie resumes writing. At the Hay Literary Festival, he stated in a pre-recorded Zoom interview, “I’m trying to write a book about the attack on me – what happened and what it means, not just about the attack, but around it.”

The award-winning author added, “It will be a relatively short book, a couple of hundred pages. It’s not the easiest book in the world to write but it’s something I need to get past in order to do anything else. I can’t really start writing a novel that’s got nothing to do with this… so I just have to deal with it.”

Salman Rushdie’s situation serves as an example of how urgently all countries must safeguard and support freedom of expression. It emphasises the value of creating an atmosphere where various viewpoints and ideas may coexist, especially when they go against accepted norms and beliefs. A truly pluralistic society appreciates both the right to express oneself and the right to possess and practise religious beliefs, therefore support for free speech must go hand in hand with tolerance and respect for religious beliefs, instead of surrendering to violent threats and practices. As Rushdie himself believes and what is also prevalent nowadays; ‘respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion’, which is the root of all problems surrounding banning of literary texts and death threats against writers in the name of religious affiliations.