Rushdie defended universal rights to free speech, says Blinken
Hailing Salman Rushdie for his consistent defense of the universal rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Sunday that Iranian state institutions had incited violence against the Indian-born author for generations and state-affiliated media recently rejoiced over an assassination attempt.
Rushdie, who has received death threats from Iran because of his book “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed Friday morning by a 24-year-old assailant at a literary event in New York. “We join those across the country and around the world who keep Salman Rushdie in our thoughts following this heinous attack. More than a literary giant, Rushdie has always championed universal rights to free speech, to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of the press,” Blinken said in a statement.
The Secretary of State further said that while officials were investigating the attack, he was reminded of the malign forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence.
Blinken said Iranian state institutions have been inciting violence against the Indian-born author for generations and state-affiliated media recently gloated over an assassination attempt. “It’s despicable,” he added.
The United States and its partners will not waver in their resolve to confront these threats, using all appropriate tools at their disposal. Rushdie’s strength and that of all those around the world who have endured such threats strengthens resolve and underscores the imperative to stand united as an international community against those who would challenge these universal rights, Blinken said.
On Sunday, Rushdie was disconnected from the ventilator and can now speak. Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and could speak, without giving further details, according to The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Hadi Matar, who is suspected of stabbing Rushdie, has pleaded not guilty to attempted second degree murder and other charges in a New York court.
Rushdie is a famous British-American author born in India and winner of numerous literary awards. The seventy-five-year-old author grabbed the limelight with his novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ in 1981. The Indian-born author won the Booker Prize for the novel which was also adapted for the stage.
But his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” led to a fatwa, a religious edict, by then-Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The threat forced him into hiding for several years.
Rushdie’s books have been translated into several languages.