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The long controversy around Salman Rushdie, and his refusal to avoid speaking up

Author Salman Rushdiehas often sparked controversy and also incited anger, however the latest protest to his work has left himrecovering after sustaining severe injuries during an attack in western NY.

Rushdie, who won the Booker Prize for his second novel “Midnight’s Children,” was scheduled to seem Friday in a public lecture at theChautauqua Institute, alongside Henry Reese, co-founder and president ofCity of Asylumin Pittsburgh, which gives sanctuary to exiled writers. At the function, a 24-year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed the75-year-oldRushdie multiple times, including in the neck and stomach. Rushdie also received puncture wounds in his right eye, chest and thigh. Reese was also injured.

Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdiesaid in statement released Sunday that the writer’s injuries are “life changing.” In accordance with Rushdie’s agent,Andrew Wylie, Rushdie was on a ventilator for a while and can likely lose his eye.

Rushdie did few events through the years, canceling aplanned appearanceat a literature festival in India, where he was created, about ten years ago after protests. The celebrated author has lived under a cloud of controversy and threats on his life for a long period yet hasn’t relinquished his support of free speech.

The dissent of the divine

In 1988, Rushdie published his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses.” Referred to as “probably the most controversial books in recent literary history,” multiple countries, includingBangladesh and Pakistan, promptly banned it. Like Rushdie’s previous novels, the book utilizes magical realism, a method where in fact the world is presented realistically aside from components of magic or the supernatural. AsVoxdescribes it, “authors in the magical realism genre deliberately withhold information regarding the magic within their created world to be able to present the magical events as ordinary occurrences, also to present the incredible as normal.”

“Literature may be the unafraid form.”

In “The Satanic Verses,” Rushdie tells the fictional story of two Indian actors, linked if they both miraculously survive a mid-air plane bombing due to hijacking. The characters transform, personifying good and evil. The title and the controversy relate with theQuranicSatanic Verses.Along with his novel, Rushdie was accused of mocking a few of the tenets ofMuslim religious beliefs. AsSalonwrote in 2018, 30 years following the book’s first publication: “Rushdie seems to cast doubt on the divine nature of the Quran.”

The a reaction to the book was swift. Thousands protested in the administrative centre city of Pakistan outside theAmerican Cultural Center, which left multiple people dead. The novel was whisked from public display in bookstores in Brittan; it had been burned in protests there. The book’s launch event includedbomb-sniffing dogs.

The risk of death

A couple of months after publication, Rushdie learned his life was gravely in peril with a telephone call from the journalist. AsSalonwrote in a 2012 interview with Rushdie, a BBC reporter called the writer and asked “So how exactly does it feel” now thatthe Ayatollah Khomeini had sentenced him to death?

Thefatwa, a legal ruling on a spot of Islamic law, needed Rushdie’s death due to his book, which some considered blasphemous. Soon, Rushdie lived in hiding and under police protection, going by way of a fake name. In 2012, he published a memoir “Joseph Anton,” the title which was the pseudonym he previously lived under for such a long time. In accordance with Rushdie, he didn’t see his son much during his years in hiding, and his marriage at that time ended. He toldSalonin the 2012 interview: “I lost my 40s, essentially. I was 41 when this started, and the 40s are said to be the prime of a man’s life.”

Instead, Iran announced in 2009, once the writer was well out of his 40s, that the ruling calling for the death of Rushdie was “still valid,” in accordance withAl Jazeera.

“We have to have the courage of our convictions … we have been privileged to call home in among the relatively few countries on the planet where we reach say what we think.”

But Rushdie didn’t stay silent. Although he said it had been difficult to create under these threats, he published multiple books, including “2 YRS, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.” In 2014, he won the PEN/Pinter Prize for his support of other writers and freedom of speech. Another year, he warned free speech was in peril in his passionate, opening remarks at theFrankfurt Book Fair. “Publishers and writers aren’t warriors, we’ve not tanks. Nonetheless it falls to us to carry the line,” he said. “We challenge ourselves and won’t take the planet as confirmed. We challenge all correctives of opinion, all appeasements, all fears. Literature may be the unafraid form.”

A resurgence

In the wake of the recent attack on Rushdie, a lot of his words were recirculated, including this quote, from an interview with theBBC World Service: “Nobody gets the to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in virtually any declaration I’ve ever read. In case you are offended it really is your trouble, and frankly plenty of things offend many individuals . . . Nonetheless it doesn’t eventually me to burn the bookshop down. Unless you just like a book, read another book.”


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As Rushdie, who became a U.S. citizen in 2016 after surviving in New York for many years, toldSalonin 2012, “We have to have the courage of our convictions. That people need to recognize that we have been privileged to call home in among the relatively few countries on earth where we reach say what we think. Yes, which means that some of these utterances will undoubtedly be unlikable, even objectionable, even insulting, because nobody thinks well, not everybody’s a good person. But if you are likely to have the nice fortune of surviving in this type of society, you then need to cherish it and defend it, that’s just full stop.”

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