'We must tell better stories than the tyrants': Revisiting Salman Rushdie's speech months before fatal attack on him

Today the 75-year-old India-born British-American novelist Rusdhie is battling for his life after he was attacked in New York yesterday.
Author Salman Rushdie. (Photo | AFP)
Author Salman Rushdie. (Photo | AFP)

NEW DELHI: Three months ago at PEN World Voices Festival, Salman Rushdie had said that a poem cannot stop a bullet, a novel cannot defuse a bomb, but we are not helpless, we can sing the truth and name the liars. We must tell better stories than the tyrants!

Today the 75-year-old India-born British-American novelist Rusdhie is battling for his life after he was attacked in New York yesterday.

This incident has come as a shock across the world and leaders and intellectuals have expressed their grief and shock.

Condemning the incident, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it an attack on his freedom of expression.

“Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay," Boris tweeted.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said that the author has been a victim of a coward attacks by people filled with hatred and barbarism.

“For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side," he said in a tweet.

The 75-year-old Booker Prize winner writer would probably lose an eye in addition to having his liver damaged and one arm's nerves severed - according to his agent Andrew Wylie.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, "today the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling. All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing."

Former UK chancellor Rishi Sunak also took to Twitter and said, “Shocked to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York. A champion of free speech and artistic freedom. He's in our thoughts tonight."

The Mumbai-born British writer's "The Satanic Verses" was released in 1980 and was later banned in Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries, along with banned for import to India. In 1989, Iran issues a fatwa, or religious decree, that calls for Rushdie to be killed for insulting Islam in "The Satanic Verses".

The novel was considered by some Muslims as disrespectful of the Prophet Mohammed.

“Disgraceful attack on Sir Salman Rushdie. People must be able to speak freely and freedom of speech must be defended. My thoughts are with him, his family and loved ones," UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted.

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The New Indian Express