The author and one of the Midnight’s Children was attacked while he was delivering speech at a literary event in New York on August 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the 75-year-old Indo-British author, was reportedly stabbed up to no less than 15 times, including once in the neck, within a span of 20 seconds. It is heard that although he survives, his physical condition may not be normal again. Rushdie has lost vision in one of his eyes, and he may not be able to speak. The attack on the author is another terrible defeat of humanity, as it shows that a spirited and courageous writer must be prepared to pay the price of her/his literary works at the cost of her/his life in the 21st Century.
There is no doubt that the assassin committed the heinous offence because of Rushdie’s thoughts and statements on Islam. This act cannot be brushed aside as a sudden bout of insanity or psychosis of an individual. One has to keep in mind that Rushdie has been forced to live in tight security for the past three decades. The terror has haunted him and his well-wishers ever since Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (September 24, 1902 – June 3, 1989), the Supreme Leader of Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, issued a fatwa on February 14, 1989, ordering followers of Islam to kill Rushdie and announcing a price on his head of several million dollars, following the publication of the latter’s 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. Even 33 years later, this assailant should not be considered as an individual, but a spokesperson of a Collective Force.
Radical Islamism is the Collective Force that is spread in different forms in different countries across the globe. This Collective Force does not believe in free thought of an individual, and wants to punish people with severe physical torture or death in case of any deviation from its own rigid view. Hence, the Iranian media have appreciated the attack on Rushdie, calling it Divine Retribution. Iran’s state broadcaster daily Jaam-e Jam, too, has highlighted the news that Rushdie might lose sight following the attack, stating that “an eye of Satan has been blinded“!
Often the shock becomes bigger than the event itself. Iran’s incredible mentality seems to overshadow the horror of the attack on Rushdie. Those who welcome physical attack on an aged person should not be proud of their religious belief. If one did not like Rushdie’s writings, the person could have easily ignored the author and his creations. However, issuing a fatwa cannot be justified. The Fatwa-camp just wants to say: The right to free thought is not accepted. Naturally, Rushdie has become a symbol, holder and bearer of the Right to Free Speech. Therefore, he is not suffering the pain of injury alone, but all the spirited people around the world are feeling it.
The political and diplomatic rift surrounding this attack has become quite apparent. Even before staging protests against this heinous crime, it is important to identify the equation of power and to understand the demand of the radical Islamists. British Prime Ministerial hopeful Rishi Sunak has stated that the attack on Rushdie should be a wake-up call to impose sanctions on Iran.
Unfortunately, the Government of India has remained silent on the Rushdie issue, in spite of the fact that the author is of Indian origin. It seems that India is quite concerned about its ties with the Islamic Republic. Perhaps, inhumane is the most appropriate word in this context.
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