How to react to the attack on Salman Rushdie?

The knife attack on Salman Rushdie has shocked the world: the author was seriously injured after being stabbed by a 24-year-old man at an event in New York State on Friday. The author of The Satanic Verses has lived under the threat of a fatwa calling for his death issued by Iran's late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. The press discusses how to show solidarity with Rushdie.

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Le Monde (FR) /

The struggle must go on

Not only politicians, but also artists and intellectuals must react to the attack, the staff at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo demands in Le Monde:

“The paradox is that so many people condemn the attack on Salman Rushdie, but comparatively few reactions are coming from the camp of artists who want to continue publishing works that perpetuate the vision of the author of The Satanic Verses. Because after all those who have been murdered, like Theo van Gogh, and those who are stabbed at lectures, like Salman Rushdie, who will be left to continue their reflections and their struggle?”

Népszava (HU) /

Freedom of thought is invincible

Freedom of thought will triumph over the Islamists, Népszava is convinced:

“The goal is intimidation. Through terrorism, public execution, mutilation, forced marriage, raping women and banning their education, banning the Internet, movies, music and celebration. They think that violence and fear can win. But every minute, every hour, every day, there is someone who disproves them. Salman Rushdie has been proving for 33 years that one can live and create despite a fatwa. In doing so, he professes that freedom of thought is invincible.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

A hero just like Snowden and Assange

For Jornal de Notícias, Salman Rushdie was the first of a string of people who became inconvenient for those in power:

“Those under 33 are more familiar with names like Australian citizen Julian Assange and US citizen Edward Snowden. Their stories were made disseminated via social media and they became heroes. The two protagonists fled from country to country to escape Western authorities. Rushdie did the same, but in his case to escape the harsh Eastern hand of converts to radical Islam. The Indian writer defied customs, broke with dogma, and paid the price.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

No limits on freedom of speech

Upsala Nya Tidning reminds us that there should be no restrictions when it comes to defending freedom of speech:

“A common argument - not infrequently made after the sentence 'I'd like freedom of speech, but ...' - is that one should at least not be allowed to hurt and offend. Salman Rushdie has the best response to this: 'What is freedom of speech? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.'”

Aktuálně.cz (CZ) /

Don't give in to evil!

Aktuálně.cz says the way the world reacts to the attack is crucial:

“Will we allow the author's works to go on being burned, and the attack to go on being glorified on social media? Will bookshops stop selling The Satanic Verses once again out of fear? Or will the book be put on the compulsory reading lists in European schools, as a symbol for not giving in to evil?”

La Stampa (IT) /

Preserve irony and diversity

Salman Rushdie is the perfect object of hatred for fanatics, author Nicola Lagioia comments in La Stampa:

“His literature is based on irony and multiplicity. Irony ridicules all our efforts to achieve purity. Diversity, which gives dignity to different points of view, undermines the pretence that a single truth could be sufficient to explain even a single individual, let alone the world. ... Religious fundamentalism will always pose a threat to literature. Polytheism and parodies of sacred texts (as well as the epics) are the breeding ground of the modern novel. William Shakespeare speaks with many voices, as do Charles Dickens and Gabriel García Márquez, to whom Rushdie owes so much.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Further sanctions will not help

The taz believes that even more sanctions against Iran won't make any difference:

“The sanctions regime against Tehran is extremely rigid. Iran has been cut off from international payment transactions system Swift and imports of high-tech products for a long time. Moreover, the West is pursuing a two-faced sanctions policy. Harsh on Iran, soft on repressive Saudi Arabia, which is seen as an ally whose oil is needed. The call for even more sanctions is understandable, but short-sighted. And let us not forget: the ultra-conservative hardliners in Tehran also came to power with the help of Trump. He unleashed a fireworks display of threats, provocations and ever new sanctions against Iran. This didn't achieve anything - quite the opposite, in fact.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Tehran must clearly distance itself

More pressure must be put on Iran, Kristeligt Dagblad insists:

“In view of Friday's attack, the world community - not least the often conflict-shy UN - should demand a clear and unambiguous statement from the Iranian clergy. Does Iran sympathise with Rushdie or with the perpetrator? ... Yes, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed 'horror' at the attack, but will he and the EU leadership dare to go a step further and challenge the nation and the extremist mindset that has hampered freedom of expression for more than three decades?”

El Mundo (ES) /

Capitulation of the West

El Mundo examines the question of whether anyone would publish The Satanic Verses today:

“The Rushdie case is so relevant for us because it marked the beginning of preventive censorship on a large scale. Since then, the culture industry and the political and economic powers have acted with increasing cowardice, nowadays referred to as 'extreme caution', in the face of Islamic fundamentalism. ... That is why we are worse off today than in 1989. The West, which has already capitulated to the danger of violence, will never take such a risk again. That is why it is losing more clout with each day that passes.”