A week after author Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage at a literary event, writers and friends of the Mumbai-born author gathered at the New York Public Library and read his works, expressing their solidarity with him and his “relentless” advocacy for freedom of expression. .
Literary and advocacy group PEN America, which Rushdie had led as president, its publisher Penguin Random House, the New York Public Library, and House of SpeakEasy held “Stand With Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write” on Friday, a special solidarity event that brought together authors, activists and friends to support Rushdie.
Authors, writers, artists and members of the literary community, including Tina Brown, Kiran Desai, Aasif Mandvi and Reginald Dwayne Betts, read some of Rushdie’s most famous works and wished the award winner a speedy recovery Booker, 75 years old.
PEN said through the event that writers around the world stood in solidarity with Rushdie and “celebrated his tireless advocacy for free speech and the plight of writers at risk around the world”. The event was staged exactly a week after Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and stomach on stage in front of a stunned audience by Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from New Jersey, before the ‘Satanic Verses’ author ‘ is about to speak at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
Rushdie, the controversial Mumbai-born author who faced Islamist death threats for years after writing ‘The Satanic Verses’, was airlifted to a local trauma center and put on a ventilator and suffered several hours of operation.
“When a would-be murderer stabbed Salman Rushdie in the neck, he pierced more than the flesh of a renowned writer. It has stood the test of time, prompting us all to recognize that the horror of the past haunts the present,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, at the start of the event.
She said Rushdie has been “a constant and tireless champion of words and writers attacked for the alleged crime of their work.” Today we will celebrate Salman for what he endured, but more importantly, because of what he spawned – the stories, characters, metaphors and images he gave to the world.” Two days after the attack, his son Zafar Rushdie said in a statement that his family was “extremely relieved” that Rushdie had been taken off the ventilator and supplemental oxygen and was able to say a few words.
“Following Friday’s attack, my father remains in critical condition in hospital and is receiving intensive medical care,” the statement said. “Although his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual fiery and provocative sense of humor remains intact,” he said.
Matar was arrested and charged with attempted second degree murder and assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in the Chautauqua County Jail.
PEN America said that in addition to the Manhattan rally, public readings of Rushdie’s works were encouraged around the world as well as online with the hashtag #StandWithSalman to remind “Rushdie of both the affection that writers and readers have for him and their solidarity with his unshakable belief in the right of writers to create without fear of reprisal.Nossel said in a statement that “Rushdie is both an author of unparalleled distinction and a relentless defender of freedom of expression, using his voice to support writers and intellectuals at risk around the world for decades. We are deeply shaken by this grave attack, which reminds us all that our rights and freedoms are more precarious than we don’t want to admit it.
“The outpouring of support for Salman from leaders, friends, admirers and readers around the world has the potential to fuel a watershed moment for the freedom to write, a cause that is synonymous with the Salman’s life and work. We come together as friends, associates and admirers to amplify Salman’s words and send our warm wishes, but also to uphold principles that will not be extinguished by violence. Markus Dohle , CEO of Penguin Random House, said in a statement that “Rushdie’s voice and literary works are inextricably linked to the advancement of free speech, and the attack on him is a horrific and unconscionable act of violence. .
“As publishers, we have a collective responsibility to support writers whose books and ideas ensure an open and ever-changing society. It is our honor to publish Salman’s prolific works and to stand with him and the entire literary community in reminding the world of the power and necessity of the written word. PTI YAS AMS AKJ AMS