The day after Salman Rushdie was stabbed repeatedly in western New York, we scanned the Indian media to see if any of our “leaders” had anything to say about this atrocity. We couldn’t find any Indian leader – in politics or beyond – having a point of view on what was in practical terms an act of terror. Hence we turned to the Western media.
To quote Adam Gopnik, the attack on Rushdie was horrific because: “First in its sheer brutality and cruelty, on a seventy-five-year-old man, unprotected and about to speak—doubtless cheerfully and eloquently, as he always did—repeatedly in the stomach and neck and face…. To try to feel the victim’s feelings—first shock, then unimaginable pain, then the panicked sense of life bleeding away—to engage in the most moderate empathy with the author is to be oneself scarred. (At the time of writing, Rushdie is reportedly on a ventilator, with an uncertain future, the only certainty being that, if he lives, he will be maimed for life.)
Second, it was horrific in the madness of its meaning and a reminder of the power of religious fanaticism to move people. Authorities did not immediately release a motive for the attack, but the dark apprehension is that the terrorist who assaulted Rushdie was a radicalized Islamic militant of American upbringing…
Finally, if more locally, it was horrific because it had seemed to those who knew him that the fatwa had faded in significance and threat…Though the apologists for the Iranian government insist that the fatwa had been disregarded or increasingly neglected by the authorities, none in power had had the decency to reject it, much less denounce it—indeed, the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, seems to have reiterated the fatwa as recently as 2019—and the murderous assault on Rushdie only seems to have earned gloating and crowing from the holy men in Iran.”
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