Author Salman Rushdie addressed a public audience this week — approximately nine months after being stabbed in an attempted assassination.
Rushdie addressed the audience of the British Book Awards on Monday after being awarded the Freedom to Publish Award.
Rushdie took the opportunity to speak about the importance of freedom of expression, saying he was increasingly worried about the future of civil liberties.
“Freedom of expression, freedom to publish has not in my lifetime been under such threat in the countries of the West,” Rushdie said.
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Rushdie has long been a vocal advocate for the First Amendment — Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
Rushdie warned Monday that he feared Western nations were also beginning to move in the direction of serious censorship.
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“We live in a moment, I think, at which freedom of expression, freedom to publish has not in my lifetime been under such threat in the countries of the West,” Rushdie said.
The author continued, “Now I am sitting here in the U.S., I have to look at the extraordinary attack on libraries, and books for children in schools. The attack on the idea of libraries themselves. It is quite remarkably alarming, and we need to be very aware of it, and to fight against it very hard.”
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Rushdie, 75, was attacked in August ahead of a lecture in upstate New York, suffering serious stab wounds. He sustained a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye.
The author has been the target of death threats for over three decades for penning “The Satanic Verses.”