‘It’s a horrible attack on Salman Rushdie, but it’s also an attack on free speech’

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Political and journalistic commentators slam the brutal attack on novelist Salman Rushdie, who has been under a fatwa death decree by Iran since the 1980s.

The attack on Salman Rushdie is an attack on free speech, shocked commentators said today. 

Described as “cowardly” and “despicable”, experts have shared their well wishes for Rushdie after he suffered a brutal attack on stage.

According to reports the 75-year-old is now on a ventilator and could lose an eye following the incident in New York yesterday (Fri) which saw him stabbed multiple times as he prepared to deliver a speech at Chautauqua Institution in west New York.

Speaking to GB News, political commentator Steve Gill, said: “It’s horrible. But it’s also an attack on free speech, which is what this institute was celebrating by having him speaking at their event.

“He’s been under a fatwa from the Iranian theocracy for the last thirty or forty years or so. And just a year or so ago, the Supreme Leader of Iran was asked whether they were softening their approach on that fatwa that had been listed against him, and they affirmed that it was still in effect. 

“So millions of dollars in hit money are still hanging out there for someone willing to kill this man for speaking and writing a book . So at a time the US is trying to soften relations with Iran, it’s clear their relations in terms of proceeding against this man have not softened at all.”

Gill added: “What’s is interesting, is that we’re learning from the investigators that there had been requests for more security for him. And the institution had decided not to do that because they didn’t want a barrier between the attendees and the speakers. 

“They thought that would kind of chill the whole approach to free speech that they were promoting. And unfortunately for Mr. Rushdie, there was no barrier between the audience and him.”

Journalist Alex Larman has described the attack on Sir Salman Rushdie as ‘cowardly’ and ‘despicable’.

Also speaking to the weekend breakfast team at GB News, Larman said: “It’s absolutely disgusting, I mean it’s completely cowardly. It’s horrendously violent. But the worst thing is obviously, this is something that Salman Rushdie must have been living in fear of for years.”

He added: “I think it’s w tremendous tribute to his courage that he has led, especially for the last couple of decades, a more or less normal life. I mean, he’s been a very public figure. He’s been this great advocate of free speech. 

“He’s been absolutely tireless in terms of giving his time to people because he must have done hundreds of book signings and public appearances. And every single time he’s ever done an appearance like that, there’s always the question of, is this person coming towards me to get their book signed? Is this person coming towards me to try and kill me? Unfortunately, yesterday, we have the answer. It’s very much the latter category.”

Larman also slammed the attacker calling them “a coward” and their violence as “disgusting”. He added: “The worst thing is what we don’t know at this stage. If he was acting out of the fatwa or some kind of misguided idea that he was doing something in the spirit of his god. Or if in fact, it was some kind of tribute act, and all he was doing was committing a random act of violence because Sir Salman was a public figure, and he thought that he would get a name and a reputation for himself and do something so horrific.

“In fact, you look at what he did, attacking a man in his 70s; it’s an act of profound cowardice and their act was disgusting, despicable and on every level. So I don’t think anyone’s going to look at this young man and think, ‘oh, yeah, he’s the servant of his God’. They’re going to look at this young man and think ‘you’re a coward and you should never ever done this appalling thing’.”

Police investigating the attack on the 75-year-old novelist have confirmed the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey. No indication has been given to motive at this stage.

Indian-born writer Rushdie came to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, where his depiction of India went on to sell over a million copies in the UK alone.

However, it was his fourth book, The Satanic Verses, which was published in 1988, that forced him into hiding and under police protection. In this novel, he outraged some Muslims who considered Rushdie’s depiction of the prophet Mohammed to be blasphemous. The outrage was so strong, the book was banned in some countries and a Fatwa death decree with a reward of $3m (£2.5m) was issued for Rushdie.

When the fatwa was first issued, Rushdie went into hiding but emerged ten years later. His typically tight security was thought to have been relaxed at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state, where he was speaking.

Source: GB News

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