“Someone came from the past and attacked me in the present,” writer Salman Rushdie on the assassination attempt

“Someone came from the past and attacked me in the present,” writer Salman Rushdie on the assassination attempt
“Someone came from the past and attacked me in the present,” writer Salman Rushdie on the assassination attempt

Two years after the bloody assassination attempt in Mumbai, India-born British-American writer Salman Rushdie told the BBC how he survived the moment of the attack, which resulted in the loss of an eye. About the man who attacked him with a knife and his new book.

Rushdie, an atheist born into a Muslim family, was assassinated in New Jersey in 2022, but his life has been in danger since 1988, when his book The Satanic Verses was published.

The writer was forced into hiding after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination. His novel “The Satanic Verses” is banned in Muslim countries, but Iran sentenced Rushdie to death because of this novel in 1989, inviting any self-respecting Muslim to execute it. It is important to mention a much older incident, when in 1993 Norwegian publisher William Nighard, who was the publisher of Rushdi’s book “Satanic Verses”, was shot dead outside his house in Oslo. This already marked the seriousness of the existing threats.

A cut wound in the neck, several stab wounds in the chest and a couple more from the side and a lost eye – these are the consequences the writer experienced after meeting the fanatically religious assailant. In total, the indictment mentions that Rushdie was stabbed 10 times.

“I remember a stupid thought – it seems he damaged my going-out suit”. – Rushdi shares his memories.

People from the audience rushed to stop the attacker. The first to help was Rushdie’s peer, Henry Rees, who was about to interview the 75-year-old author. Despite being confronted by a 24-year-old young man with a knife in his hands, Henry was not afraid to run onto the stage and knock the attacker off his feet.

“If we talk about heroism, then here it is” – convinced Rushdi

Henry himself, as befits a hero, is much more modest in his self-assessment and believes that he could have reacted faster and probably could have prevented much of what happened.

“I thought it was some kind of prank. Similar things also happened at that time Oscar in ceremonies and elsewhere. I think it’s just a really stupid joke. Until I realized that everything is real” – Henry Rees

A discussion on freedom of speech and bigotry

Rushdie himself is surprised how little time the attacker had spent to find out who he was going to kill. Hadi Matar, a US citizen of Lebanese origin, accused of the attack, is said to have read only a few pages and watched some Youtube video to make the decision to commit attempted murder. Freedom of speech as such has become much more problematic, Rashdi concludes. Many people, including young people, see justified efforts to suppress dissenting opinions. Although the essence of freedom of speech is precisely in the diversity of opinions – even those with whom we disagree have the right to speak. It’s no problem for anyone to listen to someone they like, it’s much harder to let someone you don’t like talk. It is a challenge to free speech.

Salman Rushdie’s book “Knife” (from the English language – knife) published this year, as the author himself says, is his answer to the attack not only on him, but also on freedom of speech. In his new book, Rushdie compares language to a knife that cuts through the fog and reveals the truth

“This book is a knife. My knife. My way of striking back.”

Salman is determined to continue living life to the fullest, without hiding or fear. Of course, when participating in public events, the issue of safety is primary. In the future, one must be more careful, however, freedom of speech is and will be important, a confident writer.

The article is in Latvian

Tags: attacked present writer Salman Rushdie assassination attempt


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