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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > PEN America Reels from Shock and Horror Over Brutal Attack on Salman (...)

PEN America Reels from Shock and Horror Over Brutal Attack on Salman Rushdie

Friday 12 August 2022, by siawi3


PEN America Reels from Shock and Horror Over Brutal Attack on Salman Rushdie


August 12, 2022

(NEW YORK)–Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, issued the following
statement in response to the attack on author Salman Rushdie

PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie, who was reportedly stabbed multiple times while on stage speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York.

We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary
writer on American soil.

Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman had emailed me to help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the grave perils they face.

Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never
flinched nor faltered. He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced.

While we do not know the origins or motives of this attack, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for
legitimizing this assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.

Our thoughts and passions now lie with our dauntless Salman, wishing him a full and speedy recovery.
We hope and believe fervently that his essential voice cannot and will
not be silenced.”


From Ayad Akhtar, PEN America President

It is hard to find words to express the emotions occasioned by today’s shocking attack on Salman Rushdie.

As a former President of our organization, Salman means so much to us. His leadership in the wake of 9/11 set the course for the two decades which have followed. He has been and remains a tireless advocate for imperiled writers, for unfettered intellectual and creative exchange, and one of the last half-century’s great champions of freedom of expression. But it is in his own truly seminal, challenging body of work that Salman has stood most powerfully for the values of PEN America—work that has questioned founding myths and expanded the world’s imaginative possibilities, at great cost to himself.

On a more personal note, as a writer whose own work is fundamentally shaped by an early encounter with The Satanic Verses, it is particularly horrifying to me that the nightmare set in motion by the fatwa in 1989 is still with us. We are all thinking of Salman today across the PEN America community, and praying for his recovery.


Salman Rushdie delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the 2012 World Voices Festival, which he co-founded in 2004.


Read his remarks on censorship here.

“Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.” —Salman Rushdie, “On Censorship”