Sunday, October 2

Criticism of the lack of security at the festival where Salman Rushdie was stabbed

The writer Salman Rushdie, during a visit to London. / Paul Hackett / Reuters

The author of ‘The Satanic Verses’ remained intubated this Saturday and is at risk of losing an eye, according to his agent

After spending hours on the operating table, Salman Rushdie remained connected to an artificial respirator this Saturday with serious injuries to his liver and one eye and cut nerves in his arm as a result of a knife attack on Friday, when he He was about to give a literary lecture. He suffered deep cuts to his neck and abdomen and, according to his agent Andrew Wylie, the British writer and essayist is likely to lose an eye as a result of this brutal attack in Chautauqua, an eminently rural county in northwestern New York State. near the Canadian border.

The author of ‘The Satanic Verses’, 75 years old and living in the United States, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen moments before his conference at the prestigious literary festival to talk about freedom in artistic creation.

While the world reacted with astonishment to the news of the attack, new reports indicate that the organizers of the event rejected the recommendations to implement basic and usual security measures today in this type of public event, such as the search of bags and metal detectors, for fear that it would change the culture of the festival. Police reported assigning a state agent to Rushdie’s conference. He was the one who made the arrest. Even so, many attendees criticized the lack of stricter security measures at the conference given the decades-long history of threats against the writer, added to the special moment of racist attacks that the United States is currently experiencing.

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State Police, the FBI and the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, which are jointly involved in the investigation, have not yet confirmed the type of weapon the suspect used to stab Rushdie. The writer was attacked on the auditorium dais as he was being introduced before speaking at the conference. The attacker tackled Rushdie to the ground and stabbed him 10 to 15 times before being arrested. The moderator of the event, Henry Reese, 73, co-founder of the organization that offers residences to writers facing persecution, also injured in the attack, suffered a facial injury for which he was treated and, later, given discharged from the hospital.

Reese and Rushdie had organized the conference to discuss the role of the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile. The prestigious literary festival this year attracted some 2,500 people, including prominent figures in culture, such as David Graves, of ‘The New York Times’, who was attending the conference and witnessed how the attacker climbed onto the stage and attacked violently the author of ‘Midnight Children’ before being arrested by the police assigned to him and by members of the public and the organization.

The White House condemned the “appalling” attack on the writer, noting that all members of the Biden-Harris Administration pray for his speedy recovery. Kathy Hochul, Governor of the State of New York, where the events took place, stated that it is important that people feel free to “speak and write the truth”.


Hochul highlighted the easily accessible criteria of the literary festival in Chautauqua, a sleepy rural community where notable figures like Rushdie often speak at summer conferences. The amphitheater where the event is held is a large open-air venue where cultural events have been held since the end of the 19th century. Access to the site only requires a pass.


  • Joyce Carol Oates – Writer.
    “I shared the stage with him. He is a brilliant, funny, chivalrous man »

  • Stephen King – Writer.
    What kind of asshole stabs an author? I hope Salman is fine.”

  • Javier Cercas – Writer.
    “It is the triumph of the fans, who always want to kill the sense of humor”

  • Félix Bolaños – Minister of the Presidency.
    «Fanaticism is a threat to the need of human beings to live in peace»

The Democratic governor highlighted the figure of the author as someone who has spent decades speaking to power openly and without fear, despite the threats against his life that have haunted him his entire adult life.

The world of international culture reacted horrified to the events and praised the courage of the writer. Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, a literary organization dedicated to free speech, of which Rushdie was president for a time, expressed the literary collective’s shock, stressing that his “essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.” ». Norwegian publisher William Nygaard, who was shot and seriously injured in 1993 after publishing ‘The Satanic Verses’, stressed that the author “has paid a very high price for writing freely”. “He has meant a lot to contemporary literature and had found a good life in the United States,” he added.

Renowned British novelist Ian McEwan described “his dear friend Salman” as a “defender and inspiration to persecuted writers and journalists around the world, a man of immense talent, fiery courage and a generous spirit who will not be deterred.” The long list of eminent writers who have reacted to the attack includes the Indian Amitav Ghosh, the Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro; Indian author and environmental activist Arundhati Roy; and Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to leave Bangladesh following a court ruling that condemned her novel ‘Shame’ for hurting Muslim religious sentiment.

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